Introducing Campaign for National Parks – small team, big impact
Without Campaign for National Parks, National Parks may not exist here in the UK. It started off in the 1936 as the Standing Committee on National Parks which was instrumental in the creation of the first – and then subsequent – National Parks in England and Wales in the 1950s. It went on to become the Council for National Parks before evolving into Campaign for National Parks (CNP) in 2008.
The organisation’s initial creation came at a time when access to the countryside was very limited. Private landowners restricted public access. It took a group of dedicated campaigners to change this and pave the way for the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 - part of the post-war reconstruction effort.
CNP is the only national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote National Parks in England and Wales. Its mission is to inspire everyone to enjoy and look after the 13 National Parks: Brecon Beacons, The Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, North York Moors, Northumberland, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales. Scotland has two National Parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and Cairngorms – which are represented by Scottish Campaign for National Parks, a member of CNP.
It brings together over 30 organisations, including National Park Societies, National Park Authorities and other organisations with an interest in National Parks, including such as CPRE, NAAONB and National Trust to identify and address issues facing national parks and share and try to tackle these. In recent years, CNP has focused on a range of areas from accessibility and diversity to planning and climate change.
With just four members of staff, it's a small team making a big impact creating important reports, such as 2018’s Raising the Bar looking at improving nature in our National Parks (with a new report due out in 2021). CNP is frequently invited to help shape policy related to National Parks as a key stakeholder and responds to government consultations and local planning applications. It co-ordinates campaigns - online and offline – and supports members’ campaigns.
It also ran the successful Mosaic project to connect new audiences with National Parks, including young people and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities based around a scalable community champion model. This has had a lasting impact, with Yvonne Witter who has carried the Mosaic project on in the Peak District recently being named in BBC Women’s Hour’s Power List. On top of this, CNP currently runs two annual competitions – the Park Protector Awards for pioneering projects and people in National Parks and a popular photography competition, open to all.
As well as organisational members, CNP has individual members – people who support the aims of the charity and regularly contribute to enable it to carry on its important work for National Parks. Members pay a monthly subscription starting at £3 per month and receive a bi-annual printed magazine called Viewpoint, a monthly e-newsletter and range of partner discounts.
CNP’s Chief Executive Anita Konrad said: “2020 has been a challenging year for us all and we’ve seen just how important getting out into beautiful landscapes and connecting with nature has been to support the nation through this. National Parks have faced huge challenges around managing increased visitor numbers with limited resources, but there have also been opportunities to engage with new audiences and share the beauty of the Parks with more people.
“Campaign for National Parks played an integral role in the post-war recovery by spearheading the creation of National Parks. As the government of today shifts its focus from crisis response to building back greener, with the creation of new National Parks and investment into nature recovery, we have an important role to play to ensure that our National Parks – existing and future – are empowered to innovate and play their part in a Green Recovery.”
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