From Campaign for National Parks <[email protected]>
Subject News from Campaign for National Parks
Date July 31, 2020 8:12 AM
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** Why 'Project Speed' could be dangerous for our National Parks
We have recently joined with other members of Wildlife and Countryside Link ([link removed]) to highlight concerns ([link removed]) about Government plans to reduce environmental protections as part of attempts to restart the economy. The Government's Project Speed ([link removed]) proposals are aimed at developing and delivering infrastructure projects more quickly by removing various planning requirements which help protect and enhance wildlife.
Our National Parks are living, working landscapes and we recognise that they cannot be frozen in time, but nor do we want to see the very things that make them special destroyed in a rush for inappropriate development. Relaxing planning requirements in these areas would not only be bad for the environment, but it would also be counter-productive in terms of the economic recovery. Tourism plays a huge part in the local economy of National Parks, and many people visit precisely because of the high-quality environment in these areas. The challenge is to ensure that change is managed carefully and for that we need a strong, well-resourced planning system, and that is why we are supporting Link's work in this area.

Link has produced a paper ([link removed]) which demonstrates that rather than delaying economic development, environmental protections are vital to ensuring the development of healthy, sustainable communities. The paper also sets out an alternative approach to ensuring the planning system can deliver for people, wildlife and the economy.

(Photo of Ditchling Village, South Downs National Park, by Richard Reed)

** Making sure the Tree Strategy delivers for National Parks

Defra has recently launched a public consultation ([link removed]) to inform the new England Tree Strategy, which will be published later this year. This strategy will set out the Government's forestry policy up to 2050, including how parts of a £640 million Nature for Climate Fund should be used to support tree planting.

We shall be responding to this consultation welcoming the opportunities to increase trees and woodlands in National Parks and highlighting issues that need to be given more emphasis in the final strategy. For example, although trees have many benefits including storing carbon, reducing flooding and supporting wildlife, there are certain locations where new tree planting would not be appropriate. We would like the strategy to place more emphasis on supporting other important habitats such as peatland and open grassland and on ensuring that plans for more trees take account of landscape character. We also want to see more emphasis on supporting natural regeneration and the appropriate management of existing woodlands as well as planting new trees.

You can read the full consultation document and submit your own response here. ([link removed]) The deadline is 11 September 2020.

(Photo of an oak seedling by the Northumberland National Park Authority)

** Nature up close and personal: A wellbeing experiment

During this period of lockdown and social isolation, many of us have learned (or rediscovered) the importance of engaging with nature to our happiness and wellbeing. Maybe we are noticing nature more in gardens and parks, the countryside, or simply looking from our windows.

The latest findings from the People and Nature Survey for England ([link removed]) include that during the period 1–31 May, 60% of adults in England said that they had spent time outside in green and natural spaces in the previous two weeks. This is an increase in comparison to April ([link removed]) (up from 49%).

Engaging with nature will remain valuable, even as lockdown restrictions are being eased. But what we don’t yet know is how different types of nature activities affect us. To help answer this question the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), University of Derby and the British Science Association are asking members of the public to take part in a research project Nature Up Close and Personal.

This project will take place across six weeks and will determine what effect interacting and being aware of nature has on wellbeing. By joining in, you will be asked to take part in simple, nature-based activities, allowing you to experience nature up close and personal – spending ten minutes or so each day for five days over the course of a week. You will be asked a few short questions to learn more about your experiences. Whether you are a nature nerd or nature usually passes you by – this is for you. Together we can discover how our wellbeing is affected noticing nature up close and personal.

Take part today: ([link removed])

(Photo by New Forest National Park Authority)

** Further reading…
More summer reading in our blog series:

Why are our National Parks full of rubbish? ([link removed]) – Chair of the Peak District National Park Andrew McCloy writes about the increase in littering in National Parks, post-covid.

Planting for the future ([link removed]) - Alasdair Fagan, woodland creation officer at the North York Moors National Park Authority, takes a look at tree-planting projects in the National Park.

Carneddau ponies - wildlife warriors from Snowdonia National Park ([link removed]) - Hilary Kehoe of PONT Cymru tells us about Snowdonia's Carneddau ponies conserving the landscapes of the National Park.

If you wish to write for Campaign for National Parks, do get in touch and email us at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .

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