Proposals are being considered to create new National Nature Reserves and protected areas across England.
Natural England’s ambition is to develop new approaches to drive nature’s recovery and improve the connections people have with it, particularly surrounding towns and cities. The programme intends to improve people’s quality of life and address inequalities in access to the natural environment. This could include building on the idea of ‘national park cities’.
Chair of Natural England Tony Juniper said: “The benefits of our stunning, protected landscapes go far beyond their visual appeal, from enhancing our well-being, providing places for living and working communities, to making an important contribution to nature recovery and combating the climate emergency.”
The proposals for new National Nature Reserves are in response to a review led by writer and journalist Julian Glover, who examined how national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are meeting the public’s needs in the 21st century.
Although Glover recognised the efforts of those who fought for and worked in national parks and AONBs, and that “there’s much that is good”, the report states that it “falls far short of what can be achieved and what the people of our country want”.
Natural England said it will implement a “more collaborative and swifter” process to designate new national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The organisation also revealed that four areas will be considered for “greater protections”, which could deliver 40 per cent of the additional 4,000 sq kms required to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s commitment to protect 30 per cent of land in England by 2030 for nature. The areas being considered are Yorkshire Wolds AONB, Cheshire Sandstone Ridge AONB, an extension to the Surrey Hills AONB and an extension to the Chilterns AONB.