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Environment Secretary welcomes Landscapes Review

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Green and verdant hills in Dartmoor National Park
Credit: Natural England

There was widespread positive coverage on Saturday including in The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The i, The Daily Mail, and The Guardian of the independent Landscapes Review commissioned by Defra into the running of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Environment Secretary also appeared live on Sky News and the Today Programme to talk about the review.

Coverage focused on the review’s call for increasing access for everyone to designated landscapes, as well as the recommendation that every pupil should spend a night in one of these special landscapes to ensure young people remain in touch with nature

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:

These landscapes are the jewels in the crown of our countryside and are a cornerstone of our rural economy. We are committed to ensuring they flourish as havens for nature and sites that everyone in the country goes to visit for inspiration, adventure or relaxation.

That’s why we asked Julian and his panel to conduct this review and I am very grateful to them for their efforts. I welcome and agree with the spirit of ambition, which is in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan, and we will now carefully consider the recommendations set out in the review.

Writer and journalist Julian Glover, who led the review, also appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about the review’s findings.

Julian Glover, who led the review, said:

From the high fells of the Lake District to the wildness of Exmoor, England's most beautiful places define our country. Today we are setting out a big, bold plan to bring them alive to tackle the crisis in our natural environment and make sure they are there for everyone to enjoy.

If we take action, we can make our country healthier, happier, greener, more beautiful and part of all our lives. Seventy years ago this year we created our national parks for a nation that had just won the Second World War. Now it's time to reignite that mission.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England which is the government’s statutory landscape adviser, said:

We very much welcome the Glover Review and its core message that our national parks and AONBs should be the very backbone of the new Nature Recovery Network that we are working to build. These are the places that often spring to mind when people think about enjoying the natural world and by making them richer in wildlife as well as more accessible we can help people from all walks of life experience their inspirational beauty.

The report also raises concerns about the process of designating national landscapes. We share these concerns and have taken steps in recent years to streamline the system where possible, in the context of budget difficulties that lead us to do far less than we would like to.

The move builds on the government’s commitments to restore 75% of our protected sites to favourable condition, invest £50 million to help plant new woodlands through the Woodland Carbon Guarantee, and create a Northern Forest which will see 50 million trees planted from Liverpool to Hull over the next 25 years.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which commissioned the review, will now consider the recommendations and set out its response in due course.

Further information on designated landscapes, including how to visit one, can be found on the Natural England website.

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