Survey shows UK National Parks remain important in challenging economic times

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Published Wednesday 27 February 2013

There's a tendency in tough financial times for issues of conservation and countryside to slide down the list of priorities.

But a recent survey, commissioned by the UK Association of National Park Authorities, shows Britons are bucking that trend. An impressive 93 percent of those surveyed agreed that the UK's National Parks are areas of national importance.

The reasons for that importance are varied, but it would appear that most people see the National Park family as a vital part of what Britain is today and what it will be in the future -- highlighting the significance of preserving and safeguarding the Nationals Parks' special qualities for future generations.

The recent survey sought opinions from people of all ages in England, Scotland and Wales. As with a similar survey carried out in 2007, the goal was to see how people interact with their National Parks.

By and large, that interaction is positive. Some 86 percent of those surveyed saw National Parks as important to conserving national heritage, and a formidable 96 percent felt that every child should experience a National Park firsthand.

Combine this with the dramatic rise since 2007 in the number of short visits (in some cases just a few hours) and it paints a picture of the UK's National Parks as integral to people's lives. Though budgets grow ever leaner, Britain's breathing spaces remain accessible and important destinations of choice.

That importance is emphasised by people's views on conservation. The survey found that 96 percent of respondents said it is important to protect areas of the countryside from development; some 49 percent even said they would like to see more money spent on the UK's National Parks.

"This survey offers a very encouraging look at people's attitudes," said UK ANPA chairman Carl Lis. "In some cases, the survey findings have remained as positive as in 2007, which means the UK's National Parks are highly valued regardless of economic climate."

The survey found some interesting things, too. For instance, a number of people tend to confuse the UK's National Parks with the National Trust. It's an understandable mistake; many National Trust properties are within the boundaries of a National Park. But whereas the former often require an admission fee or membership, the UK's National Parks family are free and open to all.

Additionally, the survey suggested a handful of people may not have been aware of just how close they live to a National Park. Wales' Snowdonia National Park and England's Lake District National Park were easily identified, which makes sense -- these are two of the most visited. But there are 15 members of the National Park family, stretched across the length and breadth of the UK.

In England there are the Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales. In Scotland there are the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs. And in Wales there are the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia.

To see the full survey, visit:

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