National Landscape Association welcomes government recognition of the value of designation – urges that new funding be used for levelling up
The National Landscapes Association welcomes Government’s recognition of the immense value of protected landscapes, and the announcement of the search for a new National Park. This, coupled with the slated boundary extensions to the already designated Surrey Hills and Chilterns, and the planned designation of two new National Landscapes: Cheshire Sandstone Ridge and the Yorkshire Wolds, is a powerful endorsement of the impact of protected landscapes in meeting the challenges ahead, as long as this means the total extent of land area legally protected for natural beauty increases in the UK.
If the UK is going to come close to delivering against the key international commitments it has made, such as the UN Leaders’ Pledge that 30% of all land and sea will be effectively protected and managed for nature by 20301 (i.e., within the next Parliament), then the protected areas we have need to be expanded ambitiously, resourced to deliver and protected more effectively.
The commitment to invest an additional £15m into protected landscapes is also hugely welcome, however the UK’s National Landscape Partnerships would urge government to ensure that this extra money is used to level up. Despite England’s 34 National Landscapes covering double the land area, welcoming double the number of visitors per year and being much closer to centres of urban population (within 30 minutes journey time for 66% of the population), the 10 National Parks still receive more than seven times the funding. National Landscapes play a vital role, not just in protecting our precious wildlife and landscapes, but also for tourism, the regional economy and public access to natural places.
National Landscape teams work as a strong network both across National Landscapes and with partner organisations. This networked approach makes them a strong coordinating force for climate and nature. The work of National Landscapes Partnerships in recent years has seen peatland twice the size of Birmingham restored, just one aspect of their work that mitigates flood risk across the nation – a problem that costs the UK £1.3bn per year.
Investment in National Landscapes is a key way to ensure that more money goes directly to protecting nature and combating the effects of climate change. National Landscapes teams are small, minimally bureaucratic and rooted in local communities. They work with existing, local democratic structures and expertise to deliver national priorities.
National Landscapes are living, working places. We have a vision to be the leading exemplars of how thriving, diverse communities can work with and for nature in the UK: restoring ecosystems, providing food, storing carbon to mitigate the effects of climate change, safeguarding against drought and flooding, whilst also nurturing people’s health and wellbeing. To realise this vision, business-as-usual is not enough – the UK needs to pivot to long-term sustainable funding for nature protection, and fund protected areas according to their real value to people and society.
The National Landscapes Association will be pleased to participate in the technical process for assessing landscape value in its next steps to expand the National Landscapes family in England.
The DEFRA statement can be seen here