National Parks could be set for radical reform

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

A government advisor has suggested that UK national parks should adopt US-style rangers in order to thrive.

Nature writer Julian Glover has been placed as head of the review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The review was enacted by former environment secretary Michael Gove.  Julian Glover said that UK parks need more funding and information, comparing them to National Parks in the US.

He also suggested a “four-fold” increase in park rangers. He said: “We need a four-fold increase in our National Park rangers. It’s really important that there are people there to welcome you in, explain it, not to bring crowds in to spoil it but to explain it. And if you go to National Parks in other places, you go to America, there’s a lot more information, a lot more understanding, trying to educate people and get them to enjoy it.”

The government advisor added that the parks currently do not have enough funding.

He said: “It will cost money, the National Parks are currently funded by Central Government, about £48 million a year, we probably spend more money on opera in central London than we do on our national parks, so we do need a bit more cash.

‘They aren’t very good at the moment at coming together, at making a big case to all sorts of organisations, to people who have a lot of money and want to help them.”

Mr Glover also suggested that parks work with the NHS to get people to make the most of them.

Jeff Knott, of the RSPB said: “I’ve spent some time in US National Parks, including the Tetons, and the sense of ‘arrival’ in a special place is something largely lacking from most UK National Parks and AONBs.

‘We need properly funded and empowered National Parks, delivering massive recovery of nature as part of wider landscape scale delivery. Despite some great examples, there’s a long way to go for our National Parks to be performing as hotpots for wildlife.”

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