National Parks are England’s nature hotspots

Adders and flower reptile centre

Published Monday 20 July 2015

A new assessment by National Parks England has found that the New Forest and England's nine other National Parks are among the very best places in the country for wildlife.

Statistics1 compiled by National Parks England2 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.”


New Forest Wildlife Facts

  • The New Forest is home to the largest breeding population of Dartford Warbler in the UK
  • All six species of deer found in the wild in the UK have been recorded at various times in the New Forest
  • The New Forest holds the most extensive area of lowland heathland remaining in Europe
  • The New Forest is home to all six of the UK’s native reptile species
  • The New Forest National Park Authority has surveyed over 20,000ha of habitat for heathland birds and breeding waders


  1. National Parks: England’s Wildlife Wonders published in July 2015
  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. For more information see: Web:   Twitter: @natparksengland
  3. For further examples of species, habitats and conservation action in National Parks, see Wildlife Facts above

Notes to Photo Editor:

Infographics: Infographics from National Parks: England’s Wildlife Wonders are available from National Parks England. Also available is a map showing the locations of England’s 10 National Parks

Photographs: Available on request from National Parks England.

YouTube playlist: A playlist of National Park wildlife videos is available on YouTube

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more.

Media Contacts:

Matt Stroud, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

More articles in the news archive.

New Forest National Park Authority news feed


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