Exceptional women, exceptional landscapes – celebrating International Women’s Day 2022

  • Contributor information: CNP

To mark International Women’s Day 2022, we – like our friends at New Forest National Park Authority – are celebrating the work of exceptional women in exceptional landscapes. Here are just a few examples…


Dr Rose O’Neill, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks

Taking over the helm of Campaign for National Parks in 2021, Rose brings expertise in policy, advocacy, and campaigning from a career across the third and public sectors. She led the high-profile UK rivers programme at WWF, is a Trustee of Wessex Rivers Trust and Non-executive director of Waterwise, the water efficiency NGO. 

Prior to joining Campaign for National Parks, Rose, who has a PhD in Environmental Science, led social and behavioural science at Natural England, to understand what drives and supports people to act for and connect with nature, and to understand inequalities to ensure that natural spaces are inclusive and accessible to all. She’s also mum to two young boys and is passionate about supporting women and people from underrepresented groups to enjoy and work to protect National Parks.

Alison Barnes, Chief Executive of New Forest National Park Authority

As the CEO of the New Forest National Park Authority for the past 11 years, Alison works with a wide range of people to sustain the New Forest as a living, working landscape. She says that she regularly looks for inspiration and guidance to women who have been impactful in building the relationships and connections that make remarkable things happen.

“I think many of the skills I observe in these women relate not only to exceptional technical ability but to recognising the importance of human connection to our natural world,” says Alison, “Being a ‘people-person’, a team builder, nurturing people, creating human networks and conditions that allow others to flourish.

“I am filled will optimism on this International Women’s Day that many, many more people will be inspired and guided by the exceptional women working for our special landscapes, raising our chances of addressing the climate, nature and health crises and ensuring future generations can thrive.”

Kate Ashbrook, Trustee at Campaign for National Parks (and lots more!)

Kate was the first female Chair of Ramblers and has dedicated her life to campaigning for National Parks. As well as becoming a returning Trustee for us last year, Kate is General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, Vice-President, Trustee (and former Chair) of the Ramblers, Trustee and former President of the Dartmoor Preservation Association, Member of the Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management, Patron of the Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network, and a former member of the Countryside Agency Board.

She is a born campaigner (check out her brilliant Campaigner Kate blog) and has fought for National Parks for the last 50 years and spoke passionately at the National Park Societies Conference last year about one of her biggest inspirations and another key woman in the National Parks movement – Sylvia Sayer.

Anita Kerwin-Nye, Executive Director at YHA England & Wales

An accomplished charity leader, author and expert in education and inclusion, Anita – a mum of four – leads YHA’s income generation, and oversees YHA’s engagement programme including communications, fundraising, social and web; alongside digital sales and e-commerce. 

Anita recently contributed a heartfelt, powerful video to our Future National Parks Council Meeting highlighting how intertwined the YHA is with the National Parks movement (you can watch this here). She’s a passionate advocate of driving diversity and inclusion in the outdoors and championing women and if not already doing so, you should follow her on Twitter!

Amira Patel, Founder of Wanderlust Women

We’ve been really fortunate to see the emergence of some amazing grass roots groups in recent years that help women to experience and enjoy National Parks. The one that really stands out for us is Wanderlust Women, founded by Amira Patel who is based in the Lake District.

Delivering workshops and guided walks, Amira has helped to introduce hundreds of women in the North West to the wonders of National Parks – including the Lake District. An incredible woman full of drive and determination, check out Wanderlust Women on Instagram to get a full flavour of the brilliant initiative.

Amira is one of our first National Parks: New Perspectives bursary holders and will be undertaking a tour of National Parks later this year – giving more women, from more cities, the chance to explore more National Parks. Watch this space.

Join the conversation on Twitter as we celebrate more leaders and pioneers as part of the #ExceptionalWomenExceptionalLandscapes International Women’s Day initiative. Read our blog from last year’s International Women’s Day which highlights more exceptional women in National Parks.