National Park Authority welcomes independent Glover review

The South Downs National Park Authority has welcomed the ambition of a major independent review that seeks to strengthen links between protected landscapes, face the challenges of climate change and engage with even more young people.

Seventy years after the Act of Parliament that created the first National Parks, the review – led by writer Julian Glover – was published in the last few weeks and called for bold action to reignite the founding spirit of our great National Park movement.

The review also outlined that climate change, biodiversity loss, and a changing, urban society mean that new approaches are needed to get the most out of England’s most-loved landscapes, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Three central messages run throughout the document:

  • All protected landscapes, particularly National Parks, need to rise to the challenge of restoring nature and responding to climate change. The Review proposes a powerful revision of our first purpose to enshrine this ambition: “recover, conserve and enhance natural beauty, biodiversity and natural capital, and cultural heritage”.
  • National Parks need to rediscover their “original mission” to reach out to the whole of society and should be much bolder in doing so. This is captured in the following revised second purpose of National Park set out in the report to: “actively connect all parts of society with these special places to support understanding, enjoyment and the nation’s health and wellbeing”.
  • National Parks and AONBs should be brought together as a single collaborative and more proactive family of national landscapes.

Welcoming the review, Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The Report is grounded in a deep love of landscape and strong support for National Parks and AONBs.

“We’re pleased to see a strong focus in the report on connecting young people and harder-to-reach groups to their national landscapes.

“It’s good to know we are on the right track, with still more we can do. We’re already leading the way in terms of engaging with young people and ensuring they can ‘spend a night under the stars’.

“Our Dark Skies Festival had a record turnout last year and brought the wonder of our night sky to 3,000 new people. The Festival will be back with an even bigger schedule in February next year.

“So far this year we have met and spoken to over 17,000 people at events in urban areas in and around the National Park, at festivals, at the Southampton Mela and more.

“Plans are already underway for how we can reach even more new audiences during our 10th anniversary in 2020.

“I’m also pleased that health and well-being features prominently in the report.”

And Trevor added: “Some of the proposals have a large price tag but the report is clear that ‘any increase in ambition will need to be matched with funds’. Meeting these ambitions will require additional funding and legislation, but the South Downs National Park Authority stands ready with our Partners to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“The government response will be crucial. Its reaction to date has been very positive, with Theresa Villiers welcoming the ‘spirit of ambition’ and saying that Defra would ‘carefully consider’ the Review’s recommendations.”

To see the report visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review

 

The National Park’s Dark Skies Festival 2019 saw record engagement with young people