ECOS 39 (3): Editorial: Money talks

Editorial by

Geoffrey Wain

The UK’s National Parks are not National, or Parks. Steve Carver and Mark Fisher explain ‘what’s in the label’ for our particular National Parks in this issue. Nature conservation is a vital part of the National Parks’ management role. We might want more emphasis on the wildlife component of their brief, but any new offers to advance nature in the work of the Parks are worth grasping.   

Queue the Glover-Gove review of National Parks, currently underway to consider how the Parks can be tweaked and even replicated, to improve the lot of wildlife. There will be much heat as the debate plays out. Some camps will argue for the Parks to be less restrictive in planning matters, in return for more attention to nature conservation, others will want a robust approach to restricting development, and the promised improvements for nature conservation. Introducing a range of simple to use wildlife supplementary payments might be the neatest way to go, with extra funds available for different degrees of wildlife improvement proposed by landowners, from modest habitat enhancements to more wholesale rewilding. Steve Carver and Mark Fisher consider the options for the more ambitious end of this spectrum in this issue.

We must avoid a disproportionate fuss about the status of existing designated landscapes. For instance, already in the Cotswolds factions are arguing for a change to National Park labeling from the present demarcation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Work is already commissioned to look at the economic implications of any possible changes. Oh dear. We must beware getting distracted by paper exercise with contrived figures. These studies cannot predict all the unintended consequences of potential changes. 

We know to our cost in conservation circles, that being sidetracked by consultations can raise expectations but deliver little in the end. Writing in this edition, from a Welsh perspective, Mick Green bemoans the downgrading of wildlife across the statutory agenda. He claims that recent Welsh Government consultations are hard to influence and have not been of benefit to nature one iota. A wise approach to re-jigging National Parks for wildlife right now might be evolution not revolution, and minimal fuss.  

Meanwhile, on the ground where it matters, attempts are being made to mitigate environmental impacts of the HS2 corridor, along this colossal infrastructure project. Natural England is trying to link existing wildlife and landscape projects to the enhancements alongside the scar of HS2, but as the Woodland Trust reminds us, 40 hectares of ancient woodlands will be wiped out by this vanity project.  No wonder the WT calls the HS2 mitigation an exercise in greenwash. 

So, as ever, let’s recognise the scale of loss of important wildlife as we scurry to exploit government funds and ideas which are on the table. And whatever we hope for National Parks and the greater aspirations for wildlife, the Parks have experienced around a 40% loss of funding in the past six years, restricting their work on many areas including conservation and people’s ability to learn about the Parks’ wildlife. Before we rush to applaud the Minister for another proposal we might like the sound of, beware the greenwash and the parkwash. 

ECOS 39(3)


Money talks

Geoffrey Wain

Feature articles

Meat: the alpha and omega of extinction

Simon Leadbeater

Saving Sheffield’s trees- from its own Council

Ian Rotherham

Reviewing England’s National Parks: an opportunity for rewilding?

Steve Carver & Mark Fisher

Caring for nature in a post-Brexit Wales

Mick Green & Janet Mackinno

Book Reviews

The Lynx and Us

Behind the Binoculars & Behind More Binoculars


Wain, Geoffrey “ECOS 39 (3): Editorial: Money talks” ECOS vol. 39(3) 2018, British Association of Nature Conservationists,

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