The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has this week set out an 8 point plan detailing how it intends to protect, promote and enhance National Parks in England from now until 2020.

It includes plans to connect more young people to the environment through National Parks, and to increase visitor numbers. The plan also has an aim to increase the diversity of visitors from the UK, promote these world-class cultural attractions to a global audience and further secure the future of these iconic protected landscapes, ensuring effective environmental management and growing a strong rural economy.

DEFRA’s 8 point plan in brief:

  • Connect young people with nature
  • Create thriving natural environments
  • Drive growth in international tourism
  • Deliver new apprenticeships in national parks
  • Promote the best of British food from national parks
  • Promote the idea of everyone’s national parks
  • Promote landscape and heritage in national parks
  • Encourage health and wellbeing in national parks.

Aims to promote our National Parks as world class attractions include specific support for the Lake District National Park (LDNP) bid for Unesco World Heritage Status; their final decision now scheduled for July 2017 following receipt of the LDNP nomination dossier.

The 8 point plan’s remit to protect, promote and enhance our National Parks is very much in alignment with membership organisation Friends of the Lake District and its own dedication to protecting and enhancing Cumbria's landscapes; the organisation originally created in 1934 to campaign to create a national park to protect the Lake District landscape for future generations.

Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive at Friends of the Lake District,

“Any Government statement on the future of our National Parks is especially relevant in Cumbria, where we have the largest proportion of landscapes designated as National Park or Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) in England.

“We should welcome any action that recognises that our National Parks are places with “special qualities” and establishes them squarely at the heart of Government’s thinking on the environment being managed for future generations”.

The plan also aims to harness the power of the natural environment to improve national wellbeing, after research published earlier this month by Natural England showed taking part in nature-based activities can contribute to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression.

Over a third of England’s diverse range of protected foods is produced within National Parks. Promoting these foods and encouraging more producers to apply for this coveted status also forms part of the strategy to ensure our National Parks continue to thrive in the future.

Douglas Chalmers,

“Of course, this has all to be delivered, but there are some exciting features in this document. We expect and welcome the environmental plans, but health and wellbeing and the link to food production will create new opportunities for these incredibly attractive parts of the land.

“The landscapes in National Parks are fundamental, but by recognising that there are also people, their communities, and their activities there, we can get everyone working towards a secure future for these “jewels in our landscape”.

View / download the full plan here: national-parks-8-point-plan-for-england-2016-to-2020.pdf