Making the Parks even more beautiful by ensuring they flourish

27 June 2018

As we launch our new report, Raising the bar: improving wildlife in our National Parks, Fiona Howie looks at the changes we believe are necessary to ensure the Parks are even more beautiful and full of life. #summerofbeauty

National Parks are important to England and Wales’ wildlife and equally, wildlife is a vital component of natural beauty. Far from being “ecological disaster zone”, as the commentator George Monbiot likes to call them, the Parks are home to many rare habitats and endangered species National Parks are home. But, we believe the Parks could and should be doing more to help buck the national trends of decline in wildlife. The habitats within the Parks need to be more resilient and functional and we want to see more abundant and diverse species, so these important areas are delivering more public goods and enabling people to experience wilder areas.

Raising the Bar: improving wildlife in our National Parks makes a number of key recommendations for National Park Authorities (NPAs) and the Governments in Westminster and Cardiff to help achieve the improvements we want to see.

At the local level, our report argues:

  1. National Park Authorities should demonstrate more leadership and ambition on raising the bar on enhancing nature within their Park. NPA’s should use management plans to better articulate the vision for their Parks. Opportunities for species reintroductions should be identified, habitats linked up and issues such as raptor persecution stamped out.
  2. National Park Authorities should identify an area, or areas, within which they will implement policies to make the areas feel relatively wilder. 29% of respondents to our 2016 survey wanted the Parks to feel wilder. We believe there is scope for areas to be managed differently to achieve a wild feeling.

We also argue action is needed at the national level:

  1. Natural England and Natural Resources Wales should work with the National Parks to explore a fundamentally new approach to conservation focussing on re-establishing natural processes on a large scale, turning back the decline of wildlife in the Parks.
  2. Farmers need to be incentivised to undertake environment good. Farmers have a crucial role to play in our National Parks and it’s important in any new payment system that farmers are given the backing to deliver healthier environments.
  3. To ensure that the many sensitive and important areas for nature in National Parks can be safeguarded, it is essential that protections for nature are maintained after the UK leaves the European Union.
  4. To better protect birds of prey, and restore the vitality of our blanket peatlands and upland dwarf shrub heaths, the Westminster and Welsh Governments should introduce a system of licensing of driven grouse shooting. This should also be accompanied by the use of vicarious liability to uphold accountability within any new regulatory system.
  5. To measure success we need a new suite of environmental outcomes which better prioritise the need for habitats to be bigger and better connected and ecological networks to be more resilient.

Our National Parks are precious and beautiful but we have to keep working to improve them. With the help of our supporters we want to work with Government, NPAs and others to make the Parks even more beautiful and thriving with wildlife.

By Fiona Howie, CEO of Campaign for National Parks 

Click here to read the full report