England’s National Parks have welcomed a £4.4 million funding boost from the Government but have called for a long-term plan.
The money will be shared equally between 10 National Park Authorities: Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, North Yorkshire Moors, Northumberland, Peak District, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.
The Government said the funding will support services such as visitor centres and park rangers, as well as the creation of new trails, residential programmes and mobility schemes.
It will also support access and engagement programmes and help to conserve the parks’ natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey praised their contribution to wildlife, tourism, the economy and public access.
She said: “Our National Parks are the jewel in our cherished landscapes. They support thriving communities, economies, wildlife and are important places for public health and well-being.
“This additional £4.4 million of funding will support the important work that National Park Authorities do across our countryside, and allow local people and visitors to enjoy these much-loved spaces.”
The Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme, which funds projects that recover nature or mitigate climate change, is also to be extended until March 2025.
Andrew McCloy, chairman of National Parks England, said the new funding will ease some short-term financial pressures, but a long-term plan is needed to help them deliver on the Government’s climate and nature targets.
He said: “Today’s announcement is welcome news. At a time when our National Parks are facing a real term reduction in government grant, this additional funding is desperately needed.
“It will provide some short-term help to address significant financial pressures, with cuts to staff and services in a number of National Parks already a reality.
“National Parks account for almost 10% of England’s land area and have ambitious plans to deliver on government targets for nature, climate and public access.
“We have been calling for the powers and resources needed to achieve this ambition. It’s vital that today’s announcement for this one-off funding is backed up by a commitment to support our National Parks in the long term.”
Pamela Woods, chairwoman of Dartmoor National Park Authority, added: “Whilst this is good news, we need to remember that this is, in effect, a sticking plaster.
“A one-off payment does not solve the underlying problem of how to sustain core services in the face of 12 years of real-terms cuts.
“We hope this announcement will prompt thinking about the resources required to deliver the Government’s ambition to make our National Parks better for people and nature, an ambition we share.
“A small investment in core funding for our most loved landscapes has the potential to deliver so much for nature, people and place.”