National Parks for National Health

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Published Tuesday 12 September 2017

The New Forest and England’s nine other National Parks will sit at the centre of plans to improve physical and mental wellbeing thanks to a new partnership with Public Health England.

The New Forest is an inspiring protected landscape that can play a key role in improving people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

This is recognised by the partnership – in the form of a Joint Accord – which follows recent research showing that six million people in the country are not even managing to take a ten-minute brisk walk once a month. It will build on work already being carried out to encourage more people to experience the many health benefits of getting out and active in National Parks.

The Joint Accord was launched by Steve Brine MP, Minister for Public Health in the South Downs National Park on Friday 8th September.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine, said: ‘This accord is a win-win. Not only does it help preserve our beautiful national parks, but encourages people to get active, adding years to our lives and saving billions of pounds for our NHS.

‘Physical activity helps to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions. So I am delighted to help launch this Accord, and I cannot think of a better place to get active than in our National Parks.’

National Parks Minister Lord Gardiner said: ‘England’s National Parks are not only some of our most stunning landscapes – they connect people across the country with nature and have a crucial role in improving our physical health and mental wellbeing. This accord is a great step forward and shows how we can harness our natural environment to keep our communities well and healthy.’

Examples of initiatives to improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing in the New Forest National Park include:

  • The annual walking festival, where more than 2,000 people join 80 guided walks to find out more about caring for the Forest while on healthy walks of all lengths and difficulties.
  • Walking for Health groups that run weekly short and easy walks to help people become more active.
  • An inclusive cycling charity, PEDALL, which takes people with disabilities out for cycle rides using a fleet of specially adapted bikes.

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Notes

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 www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

1. Copies of the National Parks England and Public Health England Joint Accord are available on request, or can be viewed on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england

2. England’s ten National Parks cover almost 10% of the country.  They are: Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, North York Moors, Northumberland, Peak District, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.

3. National Parks England (NPE) 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: www.nationalparksengland.org.uk                             Twitter: @natparksengland  

4. Public Health England (PHE) is the expert national public health agency which fulfils the Secretary of State for Health’s statutory duty to protect health and address inequalities, and executes his power to promote the health and wellbeing of the nation.  PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. It executes its role through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services.  PHE has a specialist public health workforce with a wide range of experience and expertise with a national team working across government and with national partners to improve health. PHE has 9 local Centres whose role is to work with local government and key partners to support them to improve the public’s health across all sections of the community.

5. For more information see:
Web: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england   Twitter: @PHE_UK   
Further information on physical activity levels and PHE’s Active 10 APP is available on https://www.gov.uk/government/news/6-million-adults-do-not-do-a-monthly-brisk-10-minute-walk 

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