Wilder National Parks

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10% core rewilding areas in our national parks will see peatlands, moorlands, woods, rivers and seas restored to health, with no loss of productive farmland

10% core rewilding areas

in national parks will help us lead the way to a wilder Britain

Despite some superb conservation initiatives, our national parks are nature-depleted and ecological shadows of what they could be – with decades old laws hobbling their ability to lead the way in tackling the extinction crisis and climate emergency. 

We’re 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 set the pace and lead the way in turning the page on nature-depleted Britain.

Sign our petition - demand wilder National Parks

Ensure our national parks are fit for the nature and climate crises of the 21st century
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Why do we need wilder national parks?

  • None of our national parks are wild enough to withstand the shocks of the nature and climate crises. 
  • Laws dating as far back as 1949 are hampering National Park Authorities’ ability to upscale efforts to protect nature.
  • Without action on this issue, the Prime Minister’s pledge to protect 30% of Britain for nature by 2030 isn’t credible.
  • 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.
Geographer Dan Raven-Ellison found, when analysing data for his film The UK’s National Parks in 100 Seconds, that they remain overwhelmingly agricultural. In four national parks, pasture accounts for over half the land. More than three-quarters of the South Downs National Park is agricultural.

Do we want this? 

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Most have become nature-depleted, ecological shadows of what they could be – three-quarters of nature reserves in our national parks are in poor condition (C) Sam Rose

Or this?

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Wilder national parks will absorb carbon dioxide, reduce flooding and improve water quality, and allow people to reconnect with nature-rich, wild places (C) Sam Rose

Wilder national parks will be popular

The top response from residents and visitors to a Campaign for National Parks survey in 2016 for improving the parks was better conservation of wildlife’, closely followed by make them wilder’.

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.

Wilder national parks can help us.…

  • Reduce flooding and improve water quality

  • Absorb carbon and help fight the climate crisis

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

  • Ensure habitats for declining plants, birds, mammals and insects. Our research shows a fifth of Britain’s species could be saved from decline or extinction by increasing the scale, quality and connectedness of habitats nationwide.

  • Offer new opportunities for communities and local economies (e.g. nature-friendly farming, forestry, eco-tourism, recreation). Our studies show 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.

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Missing species such as beavers, pine martens and white-tailed eagles should be reintroduced when habitat is available and in consultation with local people, to help ecosystems to recover (C) Silvano Paiola / WildScreen

Rewilding our national parks is already under way

Here are some of the people and organisations working 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.

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We want our next generation to inherit our great national parks as thriving, wildlife-rich jewels for them to run, swim, forage, climb, paint, meditate, exercise, write, marvel and connect with.

Lead the way to a wilder Britain

Tell UK government leaders to mandate national parks to restore nature on a large scale

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.

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