New report highlights how National Parks are delivering for the nation

  • Contributor information: CNP

With the publication of a new report National Parks: supporting people, places, climate and nature, Andrew McCloy, Chair of National Parks England and the Peak District National Park Authority, says National Parks should be loud and proud about delivering for the nation.

When the Landscapes Review was published in 2019 it usefully shone a light on some of the great work being done by the protected landscapes family, both as individual organisations and collectively. However, it also highlighted the fact that so much of what we do supporting nature, combating climate change and working to develop sustainable land management practices goes largely under the radar. Put simply, we don’t shout loudly enough about all the good work we do.

Nature and health, intertwined

I’ve spent over a decade as an elected Member of the Peak District National Park and I’ve seen first hand what Britain’s oldest National Park means for the 20 million people that live within one hour’s journey, especially our role promoting health and wellbeing during the Pandemic. Here, nature and health are intertwined through two of the Government’s green social prescribing test and learn pilots, embedding a new approach which improves people’s mental wellbeing directly within nature.

Over the past few years, I have also taken pride in how National Parks have responded to unprecedented challenges, working at scale and across conventional boundaries with a wide range of partners. The impacts of COVID-19 are felt everywhere, and Recover in Nature, an initiative developed by Northumberland National Park’s Engagement Officer, aims to support some of the groups hardest hit. Working with refugee and asylum seekers, through The Comfrey Project, people are supported to learn new skills through nature, such as building bird hides, feeders and hurdles. With partner organisations, including Black Nature in Residence and Challenge Northumberland, participants are identified through a ‘stepping stone’ organisation and actively help design activities.

Tackling the climate crisis

Climate change is a huge issue for our National Parks (as shown in Campaign for National Parks’ National Parks and the Climate Emergency report released last year), and protecting peatlands is a key priority. It locks up 3 billion tonnes of carbon in the UK, supports scarce and diverse animal, insect and plant species and is an important wetland habitat.

Dartmoor National Park’s collaborative work through the Southwest Peatland Project is realising large-scale peatland recovery, including 300 ha of peat restoration on Dartmoor alone. The partnership’s bold four-year programme of activity aims to restore up to 2,500ha of damaged peatland across Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor. The same ambition is being shown across protected areas in northern England through the Great North Bog initiative.

A blueprint for further action

It is these, and many more projects across the National Parks in England, which we have gathered in a storybook showcasing who we are and what we do. We have bold ambitions to continue and develop this work further, fulfilling the challenge laid down by Glover and providing the leadership that Government is looking for in key areas like nature recovery. Read our stories, understand the breadth of our work, and help us achieve even more.

Read the full National Parks England report here.