National Parks must put communities first

BASC has stressed the need to involve local communities in future policy decisions related to Natural Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The involvement of local communities was a key theme in our response to a Defra consultation on Natural Parks and AONB. The consultation sought views on proposed legislative changes through its future landscapes strategy. 

Proposals within the consultation were put forward following a 2019 independent report titled Landscapes Review, authored by Julian Glover. The aim is to boost nature recovery and safeguard England’s National Parks for future generations.

BASC’s consultation response highlighted the ways in which sustainable shooting continues to play a vital role in protecting the natural beauty and biodiversity within National Parks and AONBs. These are coupled with the  social and economic benefits of shooting for local communities living in these areas.

Dr Conor O’Gorman, head of policy and campaigns at BASC, said: “We welcome the government’s strategy to future-proof our most cherished landscapes, but its low prioritisation of local communities in the future purposes of National Parks and AONBs could hinder its success.

“The government’s focus on nature recovery targets is admirable, but to see success it has to acknowledge and work with the people and communities that call these landscapes home. The uniqueness of National Parks and AONBs are the result of generations of communities managing the land, and if the government wants to future-proof these landscapes then local communities should be central to the government’s proposals.”

Read more on the relationship between National Parks, AONBs and sustainable shooting here.