Failing to create national parks in mid Wales leaves the area's beautiful landscapes at open to exploitation, campaigners have warned.

No Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Parks exist in mid Wales which campaigners are arguing leaves the region's countryside and heritage open to exploitation.

In comparison four per cent of Wales as a whole is protected while 15 per cent of the English landscape is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The primary purpose of an area of outstanding natural beauty is to conserve and enhance its rural nature and natural wonders.

Campaigners, such as the Cambrian Mountain Society, also say that given the needs of the modern world, there is also an important focus on nature recovery, climate change and its impact on rural communities.

They also note it as being a form of sustainable tourism – with 156m people visiting areas of outstanding natural beauty annually, spending more than £2bn.

This figure was highlighted by Phil Holden, Shropshire Hills Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership manager, during a webinar delivered to the Cambrian Mountains Society on how designated landscapes work.

The society is campaigning to have the Cambrian Mountains designated an area of outstanding natural beauty with a petition to the Senedd is currently online- once it has reached 10,000 signatures, the issue can be debated in chamber.

Cambrian Mountain Society spokesperson, Lorna Brazell said: "What is evident from Phil Holden's excellent talk is that the AONB designation is a flexible model, and can be adapted to suit the specific needs of each region. This would work very well for us in mid Wales, where we enjoy a very distinctive culture and heritage.

"Designation would certainly work in favour of people living and working in mid Wales should AONB status be achieved. It would also provide the potential for access to funding from organisations such as the Heritage Lottery for projects such as the restoration of native woodland, head starting curlews to improve their survival to maturity, and natural hydrology projects in the uplands."

"England also runs a DEFRA scheme called Farming in Protected Landscapes, where grants can be accessed to help farmers. A similar scheme would be very useful here in Wales."