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18/01/2022

Partnership to tackle nature recovery proposed

Words: Laura Edgar
Derwentwater, Lake District National Park / Daniel Kay, Shutterstock

The government has proposed establishing a national landscapes partnership that brings together those responsible for managing national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England so they can collaborate to tackle nature recovery and improve public access.

The government said the organisations’ independence would be preserved but the partnership would support local leadership to work together nationally, to carry out campaigns, organise events and offer volunteering opportunities that bring people closer to nature.

The partnership is part of the government’s response to Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review.

Environment secretary George Eustice said the measures would represent “a new chapter in the story of our protected landscapes”.

“These reforms will play a pivotal role in meeting our international commitment to protect 30 per cent of land for biodiversity by 2030 as we build back greener.”

The consultation, which is open for 12 weeks, asks for views on proposals to drive nature recovery and support for the communities that live and work within them, such as the design and delivery of new agri-environment schemes and an ambitious management plan for each area.

Other proposals included in the consultation:

  • To encourage improved access to protected landscapes and nature for all parts of society, particularly where this supports improved public health and wellbeing. The government notes Natural England research that showed that approximately a third of those on the lowest incomes visited a natural space in a typical week during the pandemic, compared with almost 60 per cent among those on high incomes.
  • Continued support for the local communities that live and work in protected landscapes, helping preserve heritage for future generations.
  • Driving nature recovery and nature-based solutions within protected landscapes to help to address the twin challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change.
  • Applying structural changes and resources to support our protected landscapes in delivering more for nature, climate, people and places.

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, welcomed the measures, which would help it “deliver even more for the whole of society and combat the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. We look forward to playing a leading role in the national landscapes partnership and working closely with government, protected landscape bodies and stakeholders to deliver these ambitious proposals”.


Reaction:

Dr Kevin Bishop, chief executive at Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: “Since the Landscapes Review was published, the world has changed; the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of connecting people with nature for health and wellbeing benefits and a bright light has been shone on the role protected landscapes play in dealing with the climate and ecological crisis we all face.”

He said the authority would review the government’s response against three key tests:

  • An end to austerity with adequate and sustained financial investment so we can build back better and lead the way towards a green recovery.
  • Recognise the role that national parks and AONBs are playing in tackling the three crises facing us: climate, ecological and public health and provide us with the tools and support to do even more in these areas.
  • Celebrate the fact that our national parks and AONBs are global models of how to manage living landscapes: integrating conservation, recreation and the needs of our local communities.

“With the right resources and powers we can continue to welcome people to this amazing landscape for years to come, help our communities flourish and ensure we lead the response to the ecological, climate and public health crises.”

Andrew McCloy, chair of Peak District National Park Authority, commented: “The Landscapes Review underlined the value of National Parks to the nation’s physical and mental good health, amply demonstrated during the pandemic, and we are looking to build on this so that a younger and more diverse audience can benefit from the restorative powers of nature, landscape and the outdoors. This is already happening through engaging programmes such as Generation Green with our partners.

“As national parks, we can continue to be a beacon within our protected landscapes, for example, by responding to global issues such as climate change; the Peak District has already been at the heart of innovative peatland restoration for many years. Locally, we’re taking steps to reverse the decline in nature and delivering for the future of the farmed landscape through the government’s Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme.

“The Peak District stands ready to once again play a pivotal role in this new era for National Parks, but to ensure that the benefits are maximised and long lasting we endorse the review’s call for enhanced powers and sustained central support for all protected landscapes.”


The consultation closes on Saturday 9 April 2022. It can be found here.

Image credit | Daniel Kay, Shutterstock

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