A natural partnership: the growing role of businesses in restoring nature in National Parks

Logo: National Parks Partnership

By Laura Williams, Senior Partnerships Communications Manager with National Parks Partnerships

Rolling green hills and trees in a sunny landscape shot of the Peak District
Peak District National Park (Phil Sproson)

The UK’s 15 National Parks – from the highlands of Scotland to the rolling hills of the South Downs and rugged coastline of Pembrokeshire Coast – have a huge role to play in tackling the climate, nature and biodiversity crises. From restoring peatland and creating woodland, to engaging people with taking action for nature and developing and supporting sustainable travel.

But National Parks have faced some huge challenges over the past decade, with real term funding cuts to their core government grant of 50% and the ceaseless march of climate change and the impacts it has on the landscape and the communities that live and work in National Parks. Wider society is wising up to the need to take action to mitigate and address the climate crisis and reverse biodiversity loss, and the government has legally binding targets around delivering 30% of land for nature by 2030. But we’ve a long way to go from here to there.

Man squatting in a shallow river and smiling at the camera
Nature recovery work in North York Moors National Park (James Caldwell)

National Parks Partnerships was set up in 2015 to act on behalf of the UK’s National Parks and develop meaningful partnerships with companies wanting to help support and improve National Parks. Since its inception it has worked with some of the biggest global brands – including Columbia, Santander UK, BMW UK and Estee Lauder Companies UK & Ireland. Projects have included providing kit for National Parks staff and rangers, installing EV charge points in National Parks and funding youth groups in National Parks.

In our conversations with businesses, it’s become very clear that there’s a real appetite for investing in projects which help tackle the climate and biodiversity crises – including landscape scale nature-based solutions.

Picture of heather, bracken, and scrub around trees creating a vibrant colour of nature in the rising light of the sun
A kaleidoscope of colours at sunrise in Stedham Common, where the first light of day sets the rolling hills ablaze with hues of gold, crimson, and lavender, painting a serene yet vibrant tapestry over the tranquil South Downs (South Downs National Park by Mark Couper)

In 2021, National Parks Partnerships teamed up with global impact firm Palladium to launch the award-winning Revere: Investing in Nature initiative. Revere’s vision is that private finance is deployed at an unprecedented scale to restore nature for the long-term and create livelihood opportunities for communities across the diverse working landscapes of the UK’s National Parks. The Revere team has worked with the private sector to scope our projects in National Parks and start developing green finance systems which will pave the way for large scale nature restoration.

National Parks Partnerships is working with National Park Authorities (who run the individual National Parks) to identify the nature funding gap and nature projects in need of funding, and taking these to potential partners to secure the funds. It’s a simple proposition, but one that is working well for National Parks. Projects in National Parks often have multi benefits, from supporting nature and protecting against climate change to creating jobs and opportunities for local people.

A closeup of a swallowtail butterfly just about to rest on a wildflower
A swallowtail butterfly feeds on a ragged robin flower - the largest and one of the rarest butterfly species in the UK. Swallowtails are often found in and around sedge and reedbeds, their larval food-plant (milk parsley) flourishes in areas where fens are carefully managed (Broads NPA)

Take the BMW #RechargeinNature partnership launched just over a year ago. What started off as a conversation about installing charge points in National Parks to make it easier for EV drivers to live in and visit National Parks and encourage more sustainable transport options, evolved into a much bigger project to support a diverse range of work across all 15 National Parks, including funding a Young Engagement Officer post in Dartmoor National Park to accelerate the brilliant work the Authority was doing nurturing the next generation of Park champions and custodians.

This partnership working is giving National Parks a real boost and enabling them to deliver much more for people, nature and climate. And, following investment from Defra, National Parks Partnerships is expanding its nature offer and seeking new large-scale partners who want to make a real impact on UK nature, and work with us to enhance our National Parks.

Find out more here.

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Posted On: 05/03/2024

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