Public to have their say on how national parks should be protected

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Leather Tor on Dartmoor

The public are being invited to have their say on how National parks a and areas of outstanding natural beauty could be enhanced for future generations.

It is the first time in 70 years that the public are being asked to give their opinion on the matter.

Over half the UK population live within half an hour of a national park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Environment secretary Michael Gove and writer Julian Gover have called on the public to offer their views on how England’s 10 National Parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty meet the nation’s needs in the 21st century and whether there is scope to expand the current network.

They want to know whether access to the areas can be improved and whether some may benefit from better protection.

Mr Gove said: “For so many of us our love for nature is intrinsically linked with our protected landscapes, from holidays spent in National Parks to weekend rambles across our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We want to ensure the people who live, work in and visit these cherished places have a say in their future. As we look afresh at these precious landscapes, I look forward to hearing from everyone who shares an interest in conserving and enhancing them for the next generation.”

The review is to focus on how designated areas can boost wildlife, support the recovery of natural habitats and encourage more people to connect with nature.

Lead reviewer Julian Glover said: “From the Jurassic Coast of Dorset to the wilderness of the Cheviot Hills, they are still rich in beauty, local life, plants and animals – and enjoyed by millions of people.

“But already, in this review, I’ve seen the pressures too. Local people need jobs and housing, farmers who look after the landscapes need help to survive, and biodiversity is under threat as the numbers of things such as birds and butterflies decline.

“The good news is that I know we can do better – and in this review we are hearing lots of ideas about how to do it. Now we’re offering a chance for everyone who loves our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty to have a say.”

The call for evidence closes on 18 December.

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