The British Government has announced that more of England’s beautiful and iconic landscapes will be turned into national parks and areas of natural beauty (AONB) as part of its 25-year Environment Plan. It currently has 10 national parks, including Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.
The Environment Plan aims to increase access to nature for communities and better protect the country’s rich wildlife and biodiversity. After a competitive process, a wide range of projects will receive funding to enhance the natural environment and create and support thousands of jobs. These may include action towards the creation or restoration of priority habitats, preventing or cleaning up pollution, woodland creation, peatland and wetland restoration and actions to help people connect with nature.
Ten “landscape recovery” projects will also be launched across England over the next four years to restore peatlands, woodlands and create wilder landscapes. These projects will help restore the equivalent of over 30,000 football pitches of wildlife-rich habitat and will be delivered as part of the Environmental Land Management scheme. It is hoped that they result in a home being given to species such as the curlew, nightingale, horseshoe bat, pine marten, red squirrel and wild orchids.
"As we build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic, we are committed to shaping a cleaner and more resilient society to protect and restore our natural environment and diverse ecosystems," says environment secretary, George Eustice. "By starting the process for designating more of our beautiful and iconic landscapes as national parks and AONBs, and through the new landscape recovery projects, we will help expand and protect precious wildlife habitats and, vitally, increase people’s access to our treasured landscapes."