In January 2018 the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs published a 25 Year Plan for the Environment with the intention of setting out an approach to protect the landscapes and habitats in England and committed to undertake a review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Last week the Landscapes Review Final Report was published. The report covers five sections
- Landscapes Alive for Nature and Beauty
- Landscapes for Everyone
- Living in Landscapes
- More Special Places
- New Ways of Working
At first glance the document is comprehensive and well thought out but it will take me some time to digest thoroughly even with lots of photos bulking out the 168 pages. It concludes with twenty seven “Proposals” so it is easier to browse these before delving further. As a former outdoor instructor one particularly sprung out at me:
“Proposal 8: A night under the stars in a national landscape for every child”
Wow, I thought, fantastic. But then practicality crept in. Does it mean literally under the stars in a bivy, or is that under canvas or a Ray Mears type of shelter? It will necessitate professional supervision with delivery by an outdoor education centre. Extra funding will need to be provided. Many primary schools currently take their pupils to an outdoor education centre for a week away. These have to be booked a year in advance, the weather can not be guaranteed. There were not many stars to be seen on Great Ayton Moor this evening. Schools near conurbations will have to travel some distance to avoid light pollution in order to see any stars. The Duke of Edinburgh Award and the National Citizenship Scheme currently provide opportunities for young people to experience the outdoors but both these fail if there is any form of compulsion. The DofE have actually eased the camping requirement for their Bronze Award to make it more inclusive. Some children are not comfortable with camping. We don’t want to make their first outdoor experience an ordeal.
So I guess Proposal 8 is written figuratively which to me is an odd way of writing a report.
The Review panel, chaired by Julian Glover, Associate editor at Evening Standard, comprises
- Ewen Cameron, landowner, life peer and member of the House of Lords.
- Sarah Mukherjee, Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association
- Jim Dixon, “Writer who tells great stories of landscapes, nature and people of Britain for The Times & countryside publications.”
- Fiona Reynolds, “Master of Emmanuel College Cambridge, former leader of the National Trust, CPRE and CNP.”
- Jake Fiennes, General Manager-Conservation Holkham Norfolk
All extremely intelligent people no doubt but it does seems to me to be not a particularly diverse group. I know they will have listened to plenty of evidence but I fear they may have only heard what fitted within their own experience.
Anyway, today’s photo is on Great Ayton Moor on a damp, gloomy evening.