Nearly half of people surveyed on the future of the UK’s National Parks are concerned they will deteriorate if funding levels are reduced in coming years, while 85% say that their perception of a large company would improve if it provided them with support, according to a survey by the National Parks Partnerships.
Launched today, the National Parks Partnerships has been created to enable businesses to readily engage with all 15 UK National Parks to enhance the quality and utility of the Parks now and for future generations. The Partnership is led by a Board of Directors of senior executives volunteering from the private sector and key commercial leaders from UK Parks.
Steve Curl, Chair of the Board and spokesperson for the National Parks Partnership, said:
“Government and the general public provide important support to the National Parks but we need additional commitments to make sure that they are not only sustained but enhanced for future generations. Partnership with responsible businesses – without commercialisation – can deliver the support needed to secure benefits from Parks for the massive number of visitors from the UK and overseas, local communities and the environment.”
In the survey of 2000 people across the UK, 67% strongly agreed that children need to get active in the great outdoors and nature and become real kids again and 68% strongly agreed that everyone should have the basic right to access nature in green spaces, fresh air and places like the National Parks.
Curl added: “At a time when children are being encouraged to play more outdoors and we all recognise the importance of being active, companies can facilitate engagement from their own employees and all sections of the public through health and wellbeing, conservation and other initiatives. We believe this will also bring substantial business benefits to partner companies – a real win-win.”
Current plans for major partnerships include an ‘Active Parks Partner’ to jointly promote health and wellbeing activities within the National Parks; a ‘Parks Discovery Partner’ to help provide for children who wouldn’t normally get the chance to have educational experiences in ‘outdoor classrooms’ in Parks; an official outdoor clothing supplier to the UK’s 255 National Park Rangers; a national funder for the ‘Miles without Stiles’ programme that creates and maintains accessible paths throughout the Parks; and opportunities to collaborate on environmental initiatives including sustainable transport, water and carbon management.
Tony Gates, Chief Executive at Northumberland National Park, which was recently declared National Park of the Year in a public vote, welcomed the new initiative, he said: “This is particularly pleasing because it has the potential to complement the enterprising strategy we are already deploying across Northumberland National Park.
“The initiative creates a great opportunity for National Parks to work together to develop larger-scale partnerships which will support our vision for Northumberland’s exceptional landscapes, history and heritage to be explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible, whilst helping to create new and sustainable revenue streams for the long-term benefit of the Park and all who enjoy it.”
The mission of the UK National Parks is to conserve their natural beauty, promote public understanding and enjoyment, and foster economic and social development of local communities. The National Parks have 110 million visitors each year with an annual visitor spend of £5.5bn. 50% of people in England live within one hour’s drive of a National Park.
The survey of 2000 people was conducted across the UK in April.