Landscapes for everyone?

Pubic Footpath sign on top of a hill, looking into a valley of fields

In September 2019, the much anticipated review of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty was published. One year on, we’ve joined with others who care about our national landscapes, to write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We’re asking government to act on the review’s recommendations so that we can unleash the potential of designated landscapes for people, climate and nature.

A bold vision

Commissioned by Michael Gove and led by Julian Glover, the Review listed 27 proposals for how designated landscapes could be bigger, better, bolder and more connected than ever before. It set out a vision to bring them up-to-date, help them to be relevant, welcoming and accessible to everyone, and put them centre stage for nature recovery. This was the point when the ‘fire’ of the national parks movement, started with help from the Ramblers in the 1940’s, was to be rekindled.

One year on

We all know too well that government has had a lot to deal with over the past six months, so it’s perhaps not surprising that their response to the Glover Review has taken longer than expected. But, as we work to make sure that our recovery from the pandemic is as green and as equal as it can be, now is the time for government to see the opportunities that the landscapes have to offer:

  • Nature is still in freefall but the National Parks and AONBs cover approximately 26% of England and many connect with our National Trails. The Trails are working to enhance nature, historic features and landscapes along their corridors, welcoming wildlife in and people to explore the outdoors. Put these together and they form the perfect backbone for the nature recovery network, a network that supports wildlife and should extend from the peaks of the national parks, right to your doorstep.
  • The National Parks already have a remit to promote public enjoyment, and their access teams work hard so that people can enjoy well-maintained paths and well-managed open access, while the AONBs conserve and enhance natural beauty for everyone to enjoy. They have been, and can be again, places where we can test more ambitious ways to manage wildlife, agriculture and responsible public access together but they need better resource to improve their accessibility and support understanding, enjoyment and health and wellbeing for all.
  • Managing landscapes means planning for the long-term. Increased, multi-year funding settlements will help the National Park Authorities and AONBs to plan, invest and innovate for the future.

For now, the designated landscapes are struggling. After several rounds of budget cuts, and without a renewal of their vigour and purpose, they are not bucking the trend of wildlife loss and habitat degradation and are failing to reach out to the people in our communities who don’t yet feel welcome visiting them.

These should be landscapes for all and they should, once again, have the support and resources to be in the forefront of sustainable landscape management. That’s why we’ve joined with the Campaign for National Parks and other charities, to ask the government to act now, support the landscapes, implement the many positive recommendations of the Glover Review, and unleash the potential of designated landscapes to help us all recover.

Read the letter sent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.