This is an archived press release
Wednesday 23 March 2016
Every schoolchild in England will have the chance to visit a National Park at each stage of their education under plans announced by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
As new figures reveal that only 10% of schoolchildren currently have access to outdoor learning, the new Plan for National Parks launches a programme of activity to safeguard the future of the Peak District National Park and other iconic landscapes.
The measures include:
- bringing more than 80,000 young people from primary schools to visit National Parks and putting National Parks in the curriculum;
- doubling the number of youth volunteers from secondary schools in National Parks as part of the National Citizen Service;
- developing a new apprenticeship standard and doubling apprenticeships in National Parks by 2020.
With over half of the population in England living within an hour of a National Park, the plan aims to increase the diversity of visitors from the UK — as well as promoting these world-class cultural attractions to a global audience through the GREAT campaign to drive international tourism. The Environment Secretary aims to build annual visitor numbers to 100 million, bringing around £440m more to local businesses, adding to the £4 billion already generated by National Parks.
Speaking as she launched the new plan, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “National Parks already welcome over 90 million visitors every year and make a major contribution to our vibrant rural economy — but too many children in our country are not aware of these natural wonders. By instilling a love of nature in our young people and building thriving communities in every National Park, our plan will allow these unique spaces to flourish for generations to come.”
Along with work already underway to give schools in England one million native British trees to plant in their communities, National Parks will be a key part of a new Government campaign later this year to connect children with nature and the environment.
The plan also aims to harness the power of the natural environment to improve national wellbeing, after research published earlier this month by Natural England showed taking part in nature-based activities can contribute to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression. It recommended greater use of ‘green care’ to help people suffering from mental ill health, including taking part in environmental conservation—for example, through innovative schemes in National Parks.
Cllr Lesley Roberts, chair of the Peak District National Park and deputy chair of National Parks England, said: "We are delighted to welcome the Government's new Plan for National Parks which comes in our 65th anniversary year - we are the UK's first and original National Park, designated in 1951 for the benefit of everyone. Sixty-five years on we continue to work together with our partners and local communities to care for and protect this living landscape, and looking forward one of our ambitions is to introduce thousands more young people to the National Park as part of their education so that they discover new opportunities and are inspired by this wonderful natural and cultural resource."