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SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF NATIONAL PARKS

This is an archived press release

Wednesday 30 June 2004

30 June 2004

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF NATIONAL PARKS

A new national survey has revealed that 95% of people believe the UK's National Parks are valuable assets worth protecting from unsympathetic development.

The new figures, released to mark the first National Parks Week (July 1-9), confirm public support for the country's finest and most protected landscapes. The results also reveal that since 2001 there has been a 12% rise in the number of people who can name at least one of Britain's 13 National Parks. Around a quarter of people said that the Peak District is the most identifiable Park - only the Lake District had a higher awareness rating.

Britain's National Parks were created in 1949 to preserve and enhance the countryside's natural beauty and to encourage open-air recreation. The Peak District was the first Park to be designated in the UK, in 1951.

Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, Tony Hams, said: "National Parks are vital, both in terms of conserving our finest landscapes for generations to come, the opportunities they provide for open-air recreation, quiet enjoyment and spiritual enhancement, and the economic value that this provides. This new survey shows strong support for, and increased knowledge about, our National Parks.

"These beautiful landscapes belong to all of us, however urban or suburban our lives. The more sophisticated our lives become, the more we seem to need the unspoilt countryside that remains.

" National Parks Week provides an ideal opportunity for the public to experience and enjoy, and in some cases discover, these priceless national treasures."

Alun Michael, Minister for Rural Affairs, said: "As someone brought up on the borders of Snowdonia, our wonderful National Parks have always had personal significance for me. Today one of the pleasures of my job is to visit them regularly.

"I am heartened by this powerful statement of support for the National Parks. It is particularly encouraging the message isn't just coming from those we might reliably expect to speak out for them - a small group of enthusiasts - it is a message from urban centres and the general public for whom the Parks might so easily appear removed from the reality of daily life.

"The results of this survey are an endorsement of the innovative work being done by all the Parks - through outreach projects and initiatives like the Sustainable Development Fund - to make the outstanding experiences the National Parks offer relevant to all of us.

"I encourage everyone to seize the opportunities presented by National Parks Week - find out which National Park is nearest your home and discover just how much the Parks have to offer."

To find out more about the Peak District National Park visit www.peakdistrict.org

This is an archived press release

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