Monday 6 December 2021
Sarah Fowler, chief executive at the Peak District National Park Authority is to leave her role at the Authority after seven years to take up a position as chief executive at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the UK's leading wetland conservation charity.
Ms Fowler will remain as chief executive until 4 March 2022 after which Andrea McCaskie, the Authority's Head of Law, Legal and Democratic Services, will act as interim chief executive during a recruitment process for a new CEO.
During her time at the National Park, Ms Fowler has led for the ten English National Parks on their nature recovery work, developing ambitious plans to meet the government's targets on tackling biodiversity loss, chaired a coalition of partners across the north in ambitious plans to restore 92% of England’s upland peatland, and helped to develop the acclaimed National Parks Experience Collection that showcases high quality sustainable tourism offers from businesses across the National Parks.
The Peak District National Park Authority currently employs around 250 people across the organisation, with hundreds of volunteers also supporting tasks throughout the National Park’s 555 square mile area. As well as its statutory role, the Authority also operates a range of visitor facilities from all-user trails to visitor information and cycle hire centres, to accommodation and shops.
Sarah Fowler said: "I have had an incredibly enjoyable seven years working alongside colleagues, volunteers and our members to care for the UK’s original national park. When I leave my role at the Peak District in early March 2022, it will be in the knowledge that I am moving from one pioneering organisation to another with WWT's Slimbridge Wetland Centre often referred to as the birthplace of modern conservation.
"The Peak District is a place of exceptional and extraordinary landscapes and at its heart, wonderful heritage and varied communities that live, work and come to enjoy this place.
"Through my time at the National Park I have seen the value of connection with the natural world and the invaluable role of national parks in inspiring everyone to care – connecting with nature is absolutely essential for our wellbeing and our future.
"I will take with me a real sense that the role of caring for the Peak District’s extraordinary landscape – it’s natural beauty, natural and cultural heritage and communities - is not about a passive, defensive care, it’s a more nurturing, enhancing and forward looking care where we care for the future as much as the past."
Authority chair Andrew McCloy added: "We are very grateful for the professionalism and hard work that Sarah has put in over the last seven years, especially in the way that she led the response of the Peak District National Park in the face of funding cuts and a global pandemic. Sarah’s contribution on behalf of National Parks at a national level has also been immense."
"Although we are sad to see her leave, this is an exciting opportunity for someone to help us build on seventy successful years as a National Park, as we develop ambitious and innovative responses to meet the challenges of climate change and nature recovery."
The Authority will begin a recruitment process to appoint a new Chief Executive shortly and further information about the Authority's new chief executive is likely to be announced in late spring/early summer 2022.