The future of National Parks

Andrew Hall, Campaigns and Communications Officer at Campaign for National Parks takes a look at what the future might hold for National Parks. #KeepOnRambling

The creation of the National Parks we know and love today 

Campaign for National Parks was established in 1936 as the Standing Committee for National Parks to lead the push for the creation of the National Parks we know and love today. Back in the 1930s it was the coming together of groups such as the Ramblers, CPRE and others that would mean 13 years later Campaign for National Parks could count the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, as one of its greatest achievements.

70 years on, that Act is as important now as ever. In our stressed out lives we have little time for peace, tranquillity or nature and as such, the 13 National Parks in England and Wales have a renewed relevance. The benefits provided by the Parks, be it fresh air, special habitats or just space to get away from it all, is more important than ever before.

Since the creation of the Parks, Campaign for National Parks has worked to ensure these places are safeguarded from development and accessible for everyone to enjoy with the help of organisations including the Ramblers and others. But it so happens that in 2019, the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Act, we find ourselves at another important moment in the National Parks movement.

Person standing on a mountain top beneath the milky way

What does the future hold for the National Parks? Photo credit: Gareth Mon, Snowdonia. A runner up in Campaign for National Parks’ 70th anniversary photo competition.

What does the future hold for the National Parks? 

Campaign for National Parks is advocating for an ambitious new vision for the National Parks. We want to see the Parks better protected, accessible for everyone and even more beautiful – that has to include thriving wildlife and landscapes. This means National Parks which are free from the pressure of inappropriate development, National Parks where everyone regardless of background or ability feels welcome and can enjoy, and National Parks that work for nature.

There are a number of ways we can achieve this vision, but all of them require change, including:

  • Re-thinking the delivery of public transport options to and within the National Parks to make them more accessible.
  • Moving away from small-scale, single-species conservation and towards the restoration of whole landscapes.
  • Renewing protections for the National Parks by strengthening the Section 62 Duty requiring public bodies to further National Park purposes.

We believe National Parks have a vital role to play in the future of the country but they face a number of challenges which will require inventive thinking to take on. Climate change threatens to irreversibly damage the landscapes we know and love, the wildlife that brings those landscapes to life is in stubborn decline and how we manage those landscapes is likely to transform as we exit from the European Union.

The Glover review 

This Autumn we are expecting the full findings of the Glover review of England’s designated landscapes, and we are expecting this to be one of the most consequential reviews affecting the National Parks for a generation. This could be a golden opportunity for Ramblers, Campaign for National Parks and all organisations representing some of the millions of visitors to England’s designated landscapes to create real and everlasting change for the good of the Parks.

However, it is difficult to predict what exactly the future might hold for the Parks. Aside from the details of the Glover review, the torrid state of politics muddies any attempt to foresee future Government actions. But just as we were founded back in the 1930’s by the coming together of organisations of all stripes to achieve something incredible for the country, we once again need to come together, renew the movement for National Parks and fight for a different, brighter future for National Parks.

Find out more about the work of the CNP, and get involved on their website:

Keep on Rambling

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, legislation that led to the creation of National Parks, National Trails, the definitive map in both England and Wales, and National Nature Reserves across Great Britain. 

With growing issues around mental health, well-being, loneliness and obesity, our ability to access nature, and open, wild spaces is more important than ever. 

By keeping alive the ambitions of the 1949 act, we can ensure more people become happier and healthier because they ramble. 

That’s why our growing Ramblers movement is going to #KeepOnRambling

Download our limited-edition poster commemorating the 70th anniversary and hear all the latest news about our campaigns and find out more about what we’ve achieved then and how we’re continuing to campaign today.