National Parks hold the key to tackling climate change in the UK but are being held back
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In the year that the UK hosts the G7 summit and COP26, we've released a new ‘National Parks and the Climate Emergency’ report. It looks at what is currently being done to address climate change in National Parks and what more is needed.
There's been a lot of talk about a green recovery recently, which National Parks could, and should, play a leading role in, but they're barely mentioned by government let alone given the support they need to innovate and tackle climate change.
Off the back of their busiest years yet, National Parks are struggling to balance the books - coping with influx of visitors, ever-changing regulations and disruption to operations and projects. All the while they are trying to mitigate against and tackle climate change.
Moors for the Future Partnership received one of our Park Protector Awards 2021 runner-up prizes for delivering a huge amount of peatland restoration work in Peak District National Park last year in the most difficult of circumstances.
While the Welsh govt gave Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast National Parks a 10% uplift to help them cope – which provided funding extra rangers, English National Parks got a flat cash rollover - leaving them dipping into reserves.
They should be playing key role in tackling climate crisis but are relying on piecemeal project funding to tackle issues from flooding to erosion. A wholly unsustainable way forward. Our report calls for consistent multi-year funding for National Parks Authorities to enable them to innovate and play a leading role in tackling the climate emergency.
It’s not just funding that is holding National Parks back, it’s the mixed messages coming from a government that talks about nature recovery yet ploughs ahead with road building (such as the Arundel bypass) and changes to planning which appear to favour developers.
We also want to see People, Nature and Climate Commissions established in National Parks to bring together representatives from all those with an interest in National Parks – landowners, residents, visitors, non-visitors and experts – to consider the changes needed and how best to achieve them. As the winners of our Park Protector Awards 2021, Safer Lakes team said: ‘If you make it about the people, you protect the place’.
With this report – which we are sharing with MPs - and our ongoing campaigning work, we are calling for on the government to recognise the critical role that National Parks could and should play in a green recovery and step up with the support needed to allow them to do that. We’re also asking National Park Authorities to take more action to prioritise climate change.
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