I’ve been lucky to have lived and/or worked in three National Parks for more than 20 years (including four years as a National Park employee). They’ve been the backdrop to my life and have witnessed the birth and growth of my own family – and now my grandson.
I’m passionate about the concept of designated landscapes and the ideals that led to their creation in 1949 by the radical post-war Government. The system has undoubtedly worked well to safeguard the appearance of these beautiful and spectacular places under Governments of all political persuasions.
As ‘freemen (and women) on Sundays’, my grandparents were one amongst many thousands of families that escaped the grit and grime of 1930s Manchester for the fresh air and rejuvenating open spaces of the Peak and Lake District. My grandfather’s black and white photos of places they enjoyed on those walks and bike rides remain familiar and recognisable today, at least visually.
My conclusion is that national parks have generally performed well to keep the landscapes in their care looking nice and pretty. But scratch the green veneer and the widespread loss and/or degradation of habitats and species that once made up the vital components of those landscapes becomes clear.