Embargoed: for release Monday 20th July 00.01am
A new assessment1 by National Parks England2 has found that England’s ten National Parks are among the very best places in the country for wildlife, providing much-needed homes for many of our most rare and threatened plants and animals.
Statistics compiled by National Parks England show that while the National Parks cover less than 10% of England’s area, they contain much higher proportions of the most wildlife-rich habitats such as heaths, fens and ancient woodlands. Up to 80% of some habitats that have been identified as national priorities for conservation are within the National Parks.
It is not surprising, then, that National Parks are havens for our native plants and animals3. 87% of conservation priority butterfly species and 80% of priority orchid species can be found in England’s National Parks. Dedicated management and reintroduction projects are helping special species such as the fen raft spider, the freshwater pearl mussel and the barn owl to thrive and increase their range.
National Parks England believes that National Park designation has provided extra protection, creating the right conditions for nature to flourish. National Park Authorities work with landowners, communities and a range of charities and agencies to implement conservation measures and projects. The Authorities’ conservation expertise and role as planning authorities helps to protect wildlife, and support developments that enhance the natural environment.
Best of all, England’s National Parks – unlike those in some other countries - are not strict preserves where the public cannot visit. Our National Parks are free and open to all, with 90 million visitors every year enjoying the opportunity to get closer to nature.
To secure this natural value for the future, continued protection needs to be maintained across the whole of the National Parks’ area. With investment the National Parks can help expand and join up wildlife-rich habitats, providing even more places where nature can thrive and people can come to enjoy it.
Secretary of State for the Environment, Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, said: "Our National Parks are some of the UK’s most beautiful natural environments which we want everyone to enjoy. They are home to our native plants and spectacular wildlife, from the stunning orchids in the South Downs to the ospreys that return each year to breed in the Lake District. They boost our rural economies with visitors spending £4bn each year and bring together local communities helping the countryside and its businesses to thrive."
Jim Bailey, Chair of National Parks England, said: “National Parks hold sites of national and international importance, and as National Park Authorities we take seriously our role in looking after such special places. Against a backdrop of national declines in many species, we have seen notable successes. For example, the latest data on high brown fritillary butterflies on Exmoor shows the highest numbers since records began.”
1. National Parks: England's Wildlife Wonders, published July 2015. Infographics from the publication are below.
2. National Parks England is the umbrella organisation that brings together the nine National Park Authorities (NPAs) and the Broads Authority. It exists to support policy and practice by providing a collective voice for the views of the English NPAs; raising the profile of their work; facilitating discussion on issues of common concern; and working in partnership with other bodies. Follow us on Twitter: @natparksengland
3. For further examples of species, habitats and conservation action in National Parks, see Wildlife Facts below
Paul Hamblin, Executive Director, National Parks England
Tel: 020 7072 7421 Mobile: 07968 760 854 Email: email@example.com
Andy Wilson, National Lead for Biodiversity, Chief Executive, North York Moors National Park Authority
Mobile: 07980 737 580
Meriel Harrison, Policy and Research Officer, National Parks England
Tel: 020 7072 7421 Mobile: 07930 632 510 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Images and a map of England's ten National Parks are available on request. A YouTube playlist of National Park Wildlife videos is available.
Special species: the wonderful plants and creatures you can find in National Parks
Precious places: National Parks are concentrated pockets of our most important habitats
Nurturing nature: How National Park Authorities and their partners are giving wildlife a helping hand