"beauty is vital for us all but we can’t take it for granted – we need to fight for it" an interview with Dame Fiona Reynolds

7 November 2018

Now it is an exciting time for National Parks. Dame Fiona Reynolds, who's sitting on the advisory board of the Glover review, talks to us about her vision for National Parks #21stCenturyNationalParks 

Tell us about your role in the Glover review of designated landscapes?

I’m a member of the review group, which means I will contribute to our discussions and conclusions. Between us, we’re currently visiting the Parks and AONBs, meeting lots of interested people and organisations, and receiving lots of ideas and views.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, master of Emmanuel College Cambridge. Photo credit: David Levinson

What do you see as the big issues facing the Parks at the moment?

Three things stand out for me: the scope for the Parks to do more for wildlife; the chance to show how being in a National Park provides opportunities for sustainable businesses and jobs; and the need to address why our protected landscapes aren’t better known and valued, both at home and internationally.

What keeps you motivated and enthusiastic?

I’ve always loved walking in beautiful places (I walked Hadrian’s Wall at the end of July) and I’m passionate about landscape history. What keeps me going is the spiritual refreshment I get from these things.

Why do you think politicians should care about beauty in the landscape?

Because there are some things that money can’t buy, but bring huge benefits to people. Experiencing beauty and nature are top of this list.

Council for National Parks festival

A lifelong friend. Dame Fiona and others at the Council for National Parks festival 1987. Photo credit: Campaign for National Parks.

How do we get decision makers to make rural issues more of a priority?

Rural issues are going to be centre stage during Brexit because re-designing the way we fund farming and land management is one of the biggest decisions we must make. It’s a chance to do things better, and we mustn’t fudge it.

What advice do you have for those who want to see a brighter future for the countryside?

Use and value it, and encourage everyone else to use it too! Whether it’s getting city children closer to nature, young people out in the hills, or keeping older people fit and well, our countryside is essential to everyone’s lives. It’s precious and vulnerable, but at the same time life-affirming and resilient. As I’ve argued in my book, beauty is vital for us all but we can’t take it for granted – we need to fight for it. The countryside is the same.

Dame Fiona Reynolds is a lifelong advocate for the countryside, including leading Campaign for National Parks, CPRE and National Trust. Dame Fiona is currently master of Emmanual College Cambridge and sits on the advisory board of the Glover Review of England's designated landscapes. 

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