The Prince of Wales: National Parks are every bit as important as 70 years ago

  • Contributor information: CNP

18 July 2019

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales provides a foreword on the importance of the National Parks as part of celebrations of their 70th anniversary.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall took part in special celebrations in Exmoor National Park to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Act of Parliament that gave us the National Parks we know and love. 

The Big Picnic was organised by the Exmoor National Park Authority and the Exmoor Society. The special event included a specially commissioned cake, representatives from across the National Park family as well as a preview of a special film from Campaign for National Parks about the history of the movement. 

His Royal Highness wrote a foreword to commemorate the occasion: 

“Seventy years ago, the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act enabled the creation of the National parks. This was the culmination of a long battle to protect some of this country’s most special places and our fifteen National Parks remain not only protected but also rightly regarded as national treasures.

These places of exceptional landscapes and precious natural habitats provide opportunities for us all to find peace in beauty, enhance our health and wellbeing and explore our links with Nature. They offer the chance to experience some of the United Kingdom’s most extraordinary and diverse scenery and attract millions of admiring visitors from near and far each year. My own visits never seem to last quite long enough and I always leave yearning to return as soon as possible.

Our National Parks are, above all, living landscapes where thousands of people live and work. It is this daily balance between people and Nature, shaped over thousands of years of interaction, which makes these places and communities so distinct. So I am particularly pleased my Countryside Fund has been able to support many grassroots projects that are helping to sustain our countryside and rural communities for the benefit of all, including many initiatives within the National Parks.

Our predecessors clearly recognised the need to protect our most special landscapes and acted to ensure that everyone had a continuing right of access to them. Now, with a growing population and increasing pressures on our shrinking countryside, the vital importance of our National Parks continues to grow. So the challenge for everyone involved is to ensure that, together, and in the face of accumulating pressures, we can find both the will and the means to sustain the landscapes, wildlife, heritage and communities within their boundaries. Because however much our lives, and those of our children, may change in the future the basic human need for peace, beauty and spiritual refreshment from engaging closely with the natural world will, I believe, remain every bit as important as it was seventy years ago. Therefore, as we live on a very small island, we should bear in mind the future needs of our successors by protecting and enhancing other parts of our precious countryside for posterity and for human wellbeing. 

I send every good wish to all those who live and work in the National Parks, and to those who support them in so many ways, for a very happy 70th Anniversary”

His Royal Highness enjoyed festivities celebrating the 70th anniversary of National Parks in Exmoor. Photo credit: Exmoor National Park Authority

The Campaign for National Parks was established to lead this fight to protect the countryside for everyone to enjoy. Since their establishment we have been fighting to defend and improve these amazing places.