Campaign for National Parks and 38 Degrees join forces to set up ten English National Parks walks to highlight the effects of the Government cuts on National Park services
National Parks will welcome hundreds of people this weekend as part of a unique partnership between the Campaign for National Parks and pressure group 38 Degrees to highlight the Stop the Cuts campaign.
Walks have been set up in all ten of the English National Parks on Saturday to enable people to meet together to learn more about the challenges facing our precious landscapes and to enjoy the glorious countryside.
National Park Authorities have had their Government budgets cut by up to 40% in real terms over the past five years and there is real concern that Defra – the lead Department for National Parks – will have to make huge cuts to meet the Government’s £20bn savings plan over the lifetime of this parliament.
Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive, said: “National Parks are among the most beautiful and valued landscapes in the British Isles, containing some of our most breath-taking scenery, rare wildlife and cultural heritage. Ninety million visits are made to them every year, with people eager to enjoy their iconic landscapes, uninterrupted views and tranquillity.
“Our Parks are living landscapes, home to diverse communities, and must be conserved for the benefit of all – both now and in the future. That is why we are leading a campaign calling on the Government to stop cutting funding for the English National Parks and to make sure National Park Authorities have enough money to protect our most iconic landscapes for future generations.
“To deal with the huge funding cuts National Park Authorities have been forced to cut back on the maintenance of footpaths, close visitor centre and reduce funding for flood protection, forestry, climate change, education and ranger services.”
The walk comes a fortnight after the annual National Parks Week when the Minister Rory Stewart MP, described National Parks as the soul of Britain and as areas which brought together the environment, traditional farming communities, tourists and elements of our history, poetry and literature.
“I would like to work very closely with National Parks and the British public to make sure everybody in Britain has the unique experience of going to one of our National Parks,” he said.
Ms Howie welcomed the Minister’s words but said warm words were not enough: “We recognise that National Parks need to continue to evolve and we know they are being proactive about accessing new sources of funding. But National parks are national assets and the Government needs to give them sufficient resources to make sure they continue to deliver important environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to the nation.”