Wilder National Parks

Rumman amin Tr8 Jjix WE3g unsplash 1
A fifth of Britain’s species could be saved from decline or extinction by increasing the scale, quality and connectedness of habitats nationwide

Sign our petition - demand wilder National Parks

Ensure our national parks are fit for the nature and climate crises of the 21st century

Despite some superb conservation initiatives, our national parks are nature-depleted and ecological shadows of what they could be. We want to see them teeming with wildlife, where healthy ecosystems help absorb carbon and control flooding, and local people thrive.

Join us in calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to make Britain’s national parks wilder — including 10% core rewilding areas – so that these precious places can play a vital role in tackling the extinction crisis and climate emergency.

Why do we need wilder national parks?

  • Nature is badly depleted in our national parks. In England’s national parks, three-quarters of Sites of Special Scientific Interest are in a poor condition and often in a worse state than elsewhere.
  • There’s less woodland cover in the Yorkshire Dales than London, less in the Peak District than Leeds, and less in the Lake District than Sheffield.
  • The UK has been ranked 189th out of 218 countries for its quality of nature.
  • 56% of our species are in decline and 15% threatened with extinction.
  • All this would be far worse without our national parks. But we’re being outpaced by the nature and climate crises.
Sea eagle by Credit Silvano Paiola Wild Screen
Missing species such as white-tailed eagles, beavers and pine martens should be reintroduced when habitat is available and in consultation with local people, to help ecosystems to recover (C) Silvano Paiola / Wildscreen

Wilder national parks can help us.…

  • Ensure habitats for declining plants, birds, mammals and insects. 

  • Reduce flooding and improve water quality

  • Absorb carbon and help fight the climate crisis

  • Allow people to reconnect with nature-rich, wild places.

  • Offer new opportunities for communities and local economies (e.g. nature-friendly farming, forestry, eco-tourism, recreation). Our studies show that rewilding can bring new opportunities, including jobs and volunteering opportunities, and that nature recovery on marginal land can work well alongside generating income from food production and livestock.

  • Lead the way to a wilder Britain by inspiring rewilding and nature recovery nationwide.

The public wants wilder national parks

A recent poll found that 83% of the public support Britain’s national parks being made wilder, with areas set aside for rewilding.

So what can we do?

We need wilder national parks that can lead the way for a healthier, more nature-rich Britain, with opportunities for communities and local economies – and the UK Government and devolved administrations can and should take action.

The Prime Minister’s pledge to protect 30% of Britain’s land and sea for nature by 2030 is not credible without ensuring wilder national parks.

First established 70 years ago, national parks comprise some of the most remote swathes of Britain and some of our most cherished landscapes. Yet whilst national parks have largely protected these landscapes from built development, they’re not delivering for nature and biodiversity and could be much wilder. 

By mapping national park land ownership, we’ve found that public bodies and water firms own 738,000 acres or 13% of the total 5.7m acres covered by Britain’s 15 national parks. This means the Government can create core rewilding areas across 10% of the parks regardless of action by private landowners.

Watch the transformation of an ecologically degraded upland valley in Britain into a flourishing nature-rich landscape in this visionary animation.

Wilder national parks are possible

We’re heartened and inspired by the steps that some organisations are taking towards wilder national parks

We’re calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to:

  • Create core rewilding areas on public land across 10% of the national parks. 

  • Ensure another 50% of the parks become nature recovery areas – with a mix of habitats, wildlife corridors and land uses, and Government financial support for nature-friendly agriculture.

  • Modernise legislation to empower the parks to upscale their efforts for nature’s recovery.

Lead the way to a wilder Britain

Tell UK government leaders we want our national parks teeming with wildlife

Donate to this campaign

Rewilding Britain relies on donations from the public to campaign for a wilder Britain. Any support you can give will keep us fighting for the nationwide nature recovery that we all so desperately need. When nature thrives, we thrive.

You may also be interested in reading