After a period of consultation, a panel, headed up by Julian Glover wrote a ‘Review of Protected Landscapes (National Parks and AONBs ((Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty)) in 2019 which was submitted to DEFRA for their response.
The Review considered, amongst other things, the history, value, extent, and future of such landscapes.
You can read that review here
You can read about National Parks (NB the Review only considered those in England and Wales) here
You can read more about AONBs here
It took DEFRA until yesterday to respond to the Review. Their published response is here
The Review was written after a long period of consultation, and the response to it also includes a consultation. We the public are invited to make comment here before 9 Apr 2022.
I will ‘deep dive’ further in to the report over the coming days, and i have some meetings with organisations involved in the care of Protected Landscapes. However my initial reaction just brought to mind two quotes:
The report is full of ambitions, intentions, promises, hopes, and commitments down the line. It lacks the two things very urgently required to protect these landscapes and maximise their role in promoting biodiversity and combatting the climate emergency:
the allocation of very significant resources and the legally binding policies required to deliver those resources as soon as possible in order to effect significant enduring change
I’m also concerned by the constant narrative through the report about how ‘we’ can do ‘things’ to nature to improve ‘our’ futures, wellbeing, economy, etc etc etc. So much of the lexicon of the human – nature relationship is, if you look beyond the long words and glossy pictures, taking from nature to give to humans. The commodification of that which sustains us. And we’re already dangerously overdrawn on that account.
These landscapes matter for a plethora of reasons, but perhaps (simplistically ?) 1) they are the lungs of the Nation – an enormous resource for sequestering carbon dioxide, 2) they offer the greatest areas of land to promote biodiversity, and 3) they are landscapes that provide space for humans to seek mental and physical wellbeing.
The report aspires to set the stall out for Protected Landscapes for the next 70 years, so we owe it to the next two generations to ‘have our say’, and persuade government to stop talking and start doing. If your faith in their ability to get beyond ‘blah blah blah’ is limited, then please consider supporting an organisation that works directly to protect these landscapes, if you have the resources to do so.
Our relationship with Protected Landscapes urgently needs a rebalancing of the take and the give.