Andrew Bowden (CC BY-SA 2.0)
British Wildlife 30.2 December 2018

National Parks or Natural Parks: how can we have both?

Our National Parks are performing poorly for nature. Declines in biodiversity in the parks mirror those in the wider countryside, but, of greater concern, some species and habitats are actually faring worse within National Parks than they are outside them. Now, however, there is an opportunity to change this: a review of our protected landscapes, launched by the Government in autumn 2018, offers the chance to rethink our management of National Parks for the benefit of both people and wildlife. Kevin Cox, Alice Groom, Kate Jennings and Isobel Mercer discuss the current state of conservation in English National Parks and explain how these landscapes could be transformed into ‘Natural Parks’.

It is nearly 70 years since Parliament passed the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. England now has ten National Parks with the purposes of conserving and enhancing natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and providing recreation, education and enjoyment for the public. Many consider these parks to be among our most beautiful and wild places, but what we perceive as aesthetically beautiful in a landscape does not necessarily correspond to a resilient, healthy ecosystem.

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