Making our National Parks more diverse

Maxwell A. Ayamba from the Sheffield Environmental Movement (SEM) writes about some of the challenges of people from black and minority ethnic communities using National Parks

For nearly 20 years I have worked as a black academic, environmental journalist and community activist and even though in 2005 there was the publication of the Countryside Diversity Report, however, there are still not enough people from black and minority ethnic communities (BME) in the countryside and our National Parks.

Maxwell's photo out on a trip to Ben Nevis

To understand the issue of why not enough BME people visit the countryside is very complex. There’s lots of discussion as to whether this is an economic issue or not, but to many, this is far more deeply rooted. It is argued that the countryside is open to everybody and so it is left to BME people to choose whether they visit or not. But there’s a lot more to it than that – there’s a lot of history involved - with visiting the countryside traditionally seen as a rich, white activity.

Over the years Campaign for National Parks, in partnership with National Park Authorities, has done excellent work in providing opportunities for more BME people, and those who aren’t using the countryside, to visit National Parks. More than 30,000 people have experienced these wonderful places through Campaign for National Parks’ Mosaic project, and its great news this work is being continued today.

Mosaic champions check our coasteering in Pembrokeshire

The Sheffield Environment Movement (SEM) was born out of the 100 Black Men Walk for Health Group which started in 2004. SEM runs a programme of environmental, educational and practical activities in the countryside. These include health and historical walks, photography, residential weekends, fishing, cycling and other outdoor adventures all with one aim – reconnecting people with the natural environment and heritage. 

We help BME people get involved in environmental organisations and work closely with other charities to make sure that as many people as possible are enjoying and experiencing our beautiful countryside and National Parks. Find out more at www.semcharity.org.uk