Plans to help nature recover and safeguard England’s national parks have been put forward by the Government.
The aim is to increase access to nature and ensure protected landscapes play a key role in tackling climate change, protecting biodiversity and supporting the nation’s health and wellbeing for the next 70 years and beyond.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said the plans, created after Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review – which looked at whether the protections for national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) are still worthwhile, represent “a new chapter in the story of our protected landscapes”.
Those who are in charge of and manage England’s national parks and AONBs are to join forces as part of a new national landscapes partnership – where they can share knowledge and tackle issues such as nature recovery and improved public access.
Under the plans, they will also be expected to help local leaders work together nationally through schemes including campaigns, organised events and volunteering projects that bring people closer to nature.
Mr Eustice said: “These reforms will play a pivotal role in meeting our international commitment to protect 30% of land for biodiversity by 2030 as we build back greener.”
A 12-week consultation on the plans will also ask for views on proposals to drive nature recovery and support for the communities that live and work in those areas.
Mr Glover, who led the review, said: “This is our chance to make England’s landscapes more beautiful, better for people who visit and live in them and far more alive with nature.
“Our countryside is there for all of us, but from the heaths of the New Forest to the high fells of the Lake District, it is under pressure in an urban world.
“It won’t be enough just to try to conserve what we have inherited – we can change the story from decline to recovery, to make them greener, more welcoming and full of hope.”
Covid-19 has seen many people spending more time outside than before the pandemic – but some, particularly those on the lowest incomes, do not have access to greenspaces, according to Natural England.
The Government has previously pledged within the 25-Year Environment Plan to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2050.