Interim findings of the Julian Glover landscapes review – “National Parks and AONBs: review to consider the next steps for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty sites in England” – have been published.
The message from all this work has been vigorous and clear. We should not be satisfied with what we have at the moment. It falls short of what can be achieved, what the people of our country want and what the government says it expects in the 25-year plan for the environment.
Some of this failure comes from the fact that our protected landscapes have not been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job we should now expect of them. I want to praise the commitment of those who work to protect our landscapes today. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve seen energy, enthusiasm and examples of success.
We need to reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949.
We think in particular the current system of governance for National Parks should be reformed. Time after time we have heard and seen that boards are too big, do not do a good job in setting a strategic direction and
ambition, and are unrepresentative of both society and, at times, of the things parks should be leading on, such as natural beauty, climate change, and diversity.
But we would also like to see a change in internal culture to do more on this. As the National Trust put it, in its submission to our call for evidence, “We believe that National Parks and AONBs are not currently delivering on their duty in relation to nature”.
We want to see them take a lead in the national response to climate change in order to help them meet the goal of net-zero by 2050.
Under represented groups
We heard repeatedly that the MOSAIC programme working with BAME groups had been a huge success – but it was a one-off, and largely fell away when its initial funding ran out. We want to see a new version of it brought in as a priority.
Health and mental well-being
Although there are already examples of links with the National Health Service there is no overall agreement about how these two great institutions from the post-war settlement might work together. Social prescribing has huge potential to improve physical and mental health at low cost.
In almost every place we visited we heard similar warnings about the challenge communities face. Residents are getting older. Local communities see housing costs climb while not much affordable housing is built to add to the supply. We will make a specific proposal in our final report to for a proactive way for landscapes to address the shortage of social housing.
To read the full interim review, visit the Government website.