It is interesting to note what comes to mind when picturing England's National Parks. They are picturesque landscapes - full of beauty, wonder and awe. I grew up in Hebden Bridge and have fond memories of visiting the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District National Parks regularly as a child. Paddling in the river, climbing the trees, camping under the stars, reaching the top of the peaks and feeling alive!
Wilder National Parks
Yet those memories are now somewhat spoilt by a modern truth - one of landscapes that often now feel somehow empty.
Lacking in life. Nature is in severe decline, even in these specially designated places.
However, there are many pockets of hope; Ennerdale in the Lake District or The Roaches in the Peak District, to name just two. But we need more special wild places in our national parks, we need them to be more connected up and we need many, many more people to explore and fall in love with them.
I therefore welcome the recent report by Julian Glover and his team (read Landscapes Review: Final Report).
In the report Julian clearly states the need for our protected landscapes to do much more to reverse the decline on nature and he makes a series of well thought out proposals, which collectively paint an inspiring vision. Could he have been bolder (especially with regards to dealing with upland issues and trialling rewilding)? Yes! Could the proposals have been less visionary and more practical? Yes! But, that doesn't change the fact that if these proposals were implemented our national parks would be MUCH wilder, and we would all benefit from the additional services they would provide. Cleaner water, improved wellbeing, carbon storage, fresher air and so much more.
In this period of huge political uncertainty, implementing the proposals and raising the bar on our ambition for national parks is crucial for nature's recovery and our own health and wellbeing. Lets make sure our national parks become world leaders and ensure a Wilder Future.
Dr Jo Smith
CEO, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust