Valuing England's National Parks

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Published Thursday 23 May 2013

Our most beautiful landscapes are living, working places where beauty drives the economy.

A new report, Valuing England's National Parks[i] , published by National Parks England[ii], today shows the importance of National Parks not just as iconic landscapes and part of our national identity, but as thriving rural economies contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing through their special qualities.

John Dyke, Chair of National Parks England, said:

'English National Parks contribute between £4.1 - £6.3bn to the economy through economic activity within their boundaries. That’s equivalent to the UK aerospace industry. This report really shows the great value of National Parks to the economy and National Park Authorities’ role in supporting rural communities and businesses. It also reminds us of the other benefits National Parks provide – clean water, stunning landscapes, wildlife habitats, a place to relax or to be active to name but a few. These are hard to put a figure on but immensely important to us all as are the economic benefits that flow from them.'

Environment Minister Richard Benyon MP said:

‘Our National Parks are the most treasured places in the country. More than 90 million people visit them each year, helping to boost economic growth in rural areas. This report highlights the value of these areas in promoting tourism and contributing to the UK economy.’

Alison Barnes, New Forest National Park Chief Executive, said:

'We are really pleased that the New Forest has added so positively to this picture of National Parks contributing to the economy whilst keeping the landscape special. Now we want more people and organisations to work together and with us to realise the economic benefits even further.’

The New Forest National Park Authority has a number of innovative schemes which support the local economy including:

New Forest Tour open-top bus experience contributes an estimated £500,000 each year to the local economy as well as encouraging people to leave their cars at home.

New Forest Marque local produce scheme with 135 members, it encourages people to ‘buy local’ and helps sustain the New Forest’s local economy by supporting local businesses and employment.

New Forest Land Advice Service gives training, support, advice and grant funding to landowners and managers to help them with environmental enhancements to their land. It is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Verderers.

The report is packed with information and case studies showing how National Park Authorities support rural businesses, communities and economies while ensuring the National Parks remain beautiful places where people want to live, work and visit with rich cultural and ecological assets.

Other headline messages from the report are shown in the short video 'National Parks, National Assets' (below) and an infographic. These include:

  • Over 50% of people in England live within an hour’s travel of a National Park – the benefits of National Parks extend beyond their boundaries.
  • There are around 22,500 businesses in the National Parks with a combined turnover of £10.4bn employing 140,000 people.
  • Over 90 million people visit the English National Parks each year – this compares with 5 million visitors a year each to the British Museum, Tate Modern, the National Gallery or the Natural History Museum – the four most popular free visitor attractions in England.
  • Visitors to the English National Parks spend at least £4bn, contributing about one third of the spend from rural tourism in England.
  • While tourism, recreation, farming and forestry make a large contribution to National Park economies, other sectors are still significant and provide around 50% of National Park employment overall.  In 2012 employment in National Parks grew by 2.7%.
  • Public spending on National Parks via the National Park Grant is less than £1 per person per year. National Park Authorities increase the value of this spending by bringing in around 50p per person in funding from other sources.

Contact for further information:

Amanda Brace – Policy Officer, 07801 966084,


Paul Hamblin – Director, 07968 760854


[i] National Parks England commissioned Cumulus Consultants and ICF GHK to research and write the report, Valuing England’s National Parks, which assesses the contribution of England’s National Parks to national and local economic prosperity and well-being.

[ii] National Parks England exists to support policy and practice by coordinating the views of the 10 English National Park Authorities (NPAs). It does this by:

  • Providing a collective voice for the views of the English NPAs
  • Raising the profile of the work of the authorities to policy makers, Parliamentarians and other decision makers
  • Facilitating discussion amongst NPAs on issues of common concern
  • Supporting the development and capacity of the NPAs to effect change
  • Working in partnership with other bodies where this adds value.

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