The U.K.’s Lake District is a new UNESCO World Heritage site.
In 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” audiences watched as the Millennium Falcon blazed through the stunning, pale blue skies of planet Takodana.
What if I told you that the vast majority of what you saw on-screen in that scene wasn’t computer generated?
Takodana is actually a very real, very gorgeous, place — and it’s a whole lot closer than a galaxy far, far away.
Here on Earth, we call it the Lake District.
It’s a lush, mountainous national park in northwest England spanning over 900 square miles.
It’s under new international protection too. It was recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
When a region or landmark is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) for providing some form of global significance to humanity, that means it is legally protected under international treaty.
The U.N. designation protects in a number of ways — like providing emergency assistance to communities in the wake of a natural disaster or providing technical support so countries can safeguard their own sites from the natural elements (and humans) effectively.
The district was already a national park, but the UNESCO designation means more will be done to preserve and improve the area.
The World Heritage site designation will boost international tourism and the local economy in the region.
That’s according to John Glen, the minister for arts, heritage, and tourism. “The Lake District is one of the U.K.’s most stunning and ancient landscapes,” Glen said, noting the region’s vibrant farming communities and archeological attractions.
The UNESCO designation will also help increase conservation efforts in the area.
In claiming the area a World Heritage Site, the UNESCO committee suggested the impact of tourism in the region be more closely monitored, The Independent reported.
The organization also requested improvements be made in keeping the area pristine and stopping human activity from encroaching on the natural habitat. UNESCO, for example, is encouraging the district to strengthen its “risk preparedness strategies” to keep the land protected in case of natural disaster (the Lake District is prone to flooding) and advised the district to work with farming communities to develop more Earth-friendly methods when it comes to agriculture.
As long as Hollywood keeps the region as it finds it, the Lake District will likely remain a favorite filming location for directors for years to come.
And you can totally understand why.
I mean, just look at it.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” isn’t the only film that’s taken advantage of the region’s blissful scenery.
Other blockbusters have utilized the untouched views of the Lake region too, like 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” 2004’s “If Only,” and even one of the “Harry Potter” films (although the cast and crew didn’t film on the location there, they used a shot of the district as a scenic backdrop).
None, it appears, has done so quite as impressively as “Star Wars” though.
Check out the video below — a team effort by filmmaker Chris Chapman and photographer Colin Bell — which highlights how “Star Wars” transformed the British landscapes into a scene from another world: