Goodbye 2021 – a message from Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive Rose O’Neill

  • Contributor information: CNP

This last year, like the one before, has been a strange one. There have been challenges and frustrations as the pandemic rolls on but there have also been many new adventures in National Parks – and my own in joining Campaign for National Parks!

And, thanks to you, our wonderful supporters, partners and volunteers, there have been many reasons to be cheerful thinking about the future of our National Parks.

Campaigning for National Parks in England & Wales

We’ve kept up the momentum and pressure on Governments in Westminster and the Senedd to bring policy and legislation for our National Parks up to 21st Century. We published our National Parks and the Climate Emergency report to make the case clear for urgent policy change.

In Wales, we welcomed the announcement for a new National Park in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley and a much-needed uplift in funding for all National Parks. We’ve been engaging with the new Minister for Climate Change in Wales.

In England, the Environment Act was much improved after we campaigned in partnership to secure significant new targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2030, with the Prime Minister setting out plans to put National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) at the heart of efforts for nature recovery.

Engaging and inspiring people

We’ve continued to engage people with National Parks: celebrating work in National Parks with our Park Protector Awards; our Documenting Climate Change photography competition; and the launch of our new National Parks: New Perspectives bursary scheme. Our discussions at our AGM and Council meeting last month was focused on National Parks of the Future, featured contributions from The Rt Hon Richard Benyon and more (see videos here) and highlighted huge opportunities for us to work together this coming year.

Partnership working

Working in partnership with our Council organisations, including National Park Societies (NPSs) and the RSPB, and with advice from the IUCN, we published new calls, underpinned by evidence, to protect and enhance peatlands in our National Parks

Our member Societies have continued to achieve great things in the National Parks they care about. Friends of the Dales pioneered a new initiative, across the NPS movement, calling for a reduction in use of plastic tree guards in National Parks. We worked with the Friends of the Lake District successfully campaigned against a worrying new car park.

In the context of COP26, and a new international climate declaration for National Parks, The Broads Society declared a climate emergency. The Snowdonia Society has been working in partnership to address transport and parking issues at honey pot sites. The North York Moors Association hosted a hugely enjoyable and successful National Park Societies conference. And Friends of the Peak District campaigned against an intrusive road development.

Looking forward to 2022

This is just a small snapshot of some of the amazing work the whole National Park movement is doing to campaign and protect our National Parks, for nature, climate and people. We at Campaign for National Parks look forward to continuing to support and champion that next year.

Next year, we will take forward our campaign to secure necessary legislation to bring National Park powers into the 21st century, with plans for an Agriculture (Wales) Bill, a planning bill in England and promised legislation arising from the much-delayed Westminster Government response to Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review (now expected in January).

Thank you!

All this is only possible with your help and support to build and grow the movement for our National Parks. Please share your hopes and dreams for National Parks next year as part of our #CNPXmas2021 social media campaign. And, If you haven’t already, please consider donating a small amount to our Christmas appeal to help us step up and take forward the fight into 2022.

But, in the meantime, please reset and recharge and enjoy the outdoors over the festive period. That’s what Team CNP plans to do! (Please note the office will be closed 23 December 2021 – 3 January 2022).