How can we make our National Parks even better?

In celebration of its 80th anniversary, Campaign for National Parks has launched a Big Conversation about National Parks.

Chief Executive, Fiona Howie, is asking all of us to tell the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) what we think about these wonderful landscapes, but also, and importantly, what we can do to make these great places even better.

A sweeping view of Patterdale Valley towards Hartsop from Angle Tarn Pikes, Ullswater, Lake District National Park.

A sweeping view of Patterdale Valley towards Hartsop from Angle Tarn Pikes, Ullswater, Lake District National Park. ©National Trust Images/John Malley

The National Trust has always been a big supporter of the Campaign for National Parks. Before National Parks were created, the National Trust’s Chairman in 1929, John Bailey, set out an argument and vision for them that is hard to beat.

When he appeared before the Prime Minister’s Committee on National Parks in 1929, Mr Bailey set himself the question “What is a National Park?’. Here’s how he answered it.

“By a National Park we suggest should be meant something large enough for the nation to enjoy and important enough to justify the intervention of the State. Anything short of this would, we think, quite fail to satisfy public opinion. It might be well for the State to encourage local authorities to provide public recreation grounds by giving them some measure of financial assistance. But this, even if done on a fairly large scale, would not satisfy the demand which is expressed in the phrase National Park…A National Park is neither a place to play football in nor a place to wheel bath-chairs in. It must differ from such places not merely in scale but in nature. It must have enough of the untouched in it, whether of forest, mountain, or water, to give the sense of nature as she is in herself, of wild nature unworked by man, alike undisfigured and unadorned. It may include much else, much that is not wild or primitive, but if it does not include that, it falls short of the ideal for a National Park.

“This then, is the primary and most essential quality of a National Park. But clearly there are other requirements which it must satisfy. Three of these are pre-eminent. It must serve as a place of public recreation in the widest sense; it must be valuable for its fauna and flora and must be used for their preservation, and, above all, it must be a place of noble or beautiful scenery. And as to this last point we would add that if the word National is to have its full value, regard should be had to the uniqueness, the peculiar Englishness, of the features of the landscape.

“This then is our general answer to the question what is a National Park. It is something on a large scales, including much wild nature, and, if possible, nature as seen only or especially in England. It is to be at once a playground for the active and a place of recreation for those who seek rest; a storehouse of materials and the most delightful of workshops for men of science; above all a sanctuary not only for poets and artists but for all who, whether taught by them or by nature, love what is beautiful in mountain and stream, in tree or flower, and can experience no greater pleasure than the knowledge that these things, having been taken into the charge of the nation, are safe for ever from destruction and even from desecration.”

Hopefully John Bailey would be pleased that in 2016, we have 13 National Parks in England and Wales, and that the National Trust plays a big part in caring for these landscapes and opening them up to many millions of  visitors each year.

Did you know that in England alone, over 7% of land in National Parks is looked after by the National Trust? Or, to put it another way, over 46% of National Trust land sits within National Parks.

At the Trust, we’re committed to giving visitors to our places experiences that move, teach and inspire, and to playing our part in creating a healthier, more beautiful natural environment.  We care about the future of our National Parks just as much as we did when we supported the formation of the Campaign for National Parks eighty years ago, and we continue to argue for a strong planning system to care for these most special of places, whilst enabling the right kind of development so that National Parks remain living and working landscapes.

We urge all of our supporters to get involved in CNP’s Big Conversation, and help ensure that the next eighty years are bright ones for our National Parks.

Adam Royle – Senior External Affairs Adviser





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