CNP Chief Executive speaks at Environment APPG

21 May 2021

Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive Anita Konrad addressed Parliamentarians at the Environment APPG yesterday (20 May 2021), highlighting the role that National Parks could, and should, play in the Green Recovery.

The focus of the meeting, chaired by South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne and attended by a number of MPs with constituencies in National Parks including Fay Jones (Brecon and Radnorshire) and Sarah Dine (Derbyshire Dales), was 'Nature and National Parks: Making the 30x30 Commitment Meaningful'.

Campaign for National Parks was invited to speak about the how National Parks could help the government meet its target to protect 30% of land in the UK by 2030. It's something we wrote about for The House magazine last year, alongside an interview with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Critical time for National Parks

Anita, who was joined on the panel by Chair of Natural England Tony Juniper, spoke about the lack of mention for National Parks in Defra's recent announcements - highlighting the critical role they play in addressing the nature and climate emergencies.

She spoke about the plans for new National Parks and explained how new designations alone will not help us meet the 30% target, emphasising that all current protected land also needs to be brought up to standard to make this target meaningful but there are ongoing obstacles to that - from National Park Authorities not owning most of the land they are there to preserve for the nation to a lack of resources.

"The creation of new protected land cannot divert resources from existing locations," she said. "At a time when all National Parks have seen rises in visitor numbers during the pandemic and the Welsh Parks have received a 10% uplift in their budgets in response to this, England’s National Parks are seeing a repeat of previous years’ flat cash rollover of their baseline grant with the reduction of their core funding now amounting to a 40% cut in real terms over the past decade. National Park Authorities need to be innovative, entrepreneurial and agile, and there is no doubt that there is room for improvement for all. But we cannot expect them to transform when their main mode remains crisis management."

Glover Landscapes Review update

She told the group that National Parks need the right kind and level of resources; updated, stronger statutory powers; and formal recognition that they are key to tackling the climate and nature emergencies - which is all currently lacking.

"Most of these proposed changes were also included in Glover’s Landscapes Review," added Anita. "We agree with many of the Review’s findings, but it’s important to note that Glover should not be seen as a blueprint for implementation, but an invitation to start a meaningful conversation about how the protected landscapes of the future would need to be managed to deliver their full potential for people, climate and nature.

"This conversation never happened and, 18 months on, we are still waiting for the government’s response. The absence of a response, which has now been “imminent” for several months has created a vacuum at a highly critical time when  decisive action and investment in a strong delivery infrastructure for tackling the climate and nature emergencies are needed. It cannot be filled with a myriad of new, often short-lived schemes."