Dorset National Park
Winter 2021 Newsletter The Challenges
As COP26 recognised, the climate and nature emergencies present a huge challenge to us all. Stressing the link between the crises of climate and nature, the conclusion of COP26 emphasised the importance of “protecting, conserving and restoring ecosystems” to help achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 and well below 2 degrees C. The pandemic has underlined the importance of the natural world to our physical and mental health and wellbeing. The Government is committed to supporting nature recovery, bringing people closer to nature for the health and well-being benefits this brings, and promote a greener and more sustainable economic future. The Government commitment to create new National Parks for England is part of this agenda. A Dorset National Park can help the county and the country achieve these aims.
How are National Parks helping to address the Climate and Eco Emergencies?
- The 15 UK National Parks, in a joint statement before COP26, emergency and biodiversity crisis1. They have pledged to pay organisations to make greener, more sustainable choices.
- The National Park Authorities are already working to achieve net zero by 2030 for their own operations, and by 2045 for their areas.
- Their commitment includes supporting sustainable housing, low carbon land management and renewable energy schemes, and promoting more sustainable tourism, including transport to and from National Parks.
- They will work with partners to achieve Nature Recovery and to implement Nature Based Solutions at scale to fight climate change. They will lead collaborative efforts to pilot new technologies and strategies to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration and nature restoration, and will work with partners Our National Parks are showing they can be innovation engines for a green recovery and a greener future.1. https://www.nationalparks.uk/2021/10/08/press-release-uks-15-national- parks-release-joint-statement-on-climate-change-in-lead-up-to-cop-26
The Challenges for Dorset
The same challenges and opportunities face us in Dorset: Dorset’s environment is not immune to the national decline in nature and in the quality of soils, rivers and harbours, nor to the continuing threat to the survival of many species. The Dorset National Park Facebook series highlights some of our threatened species. As nature writer Jonathan Tulloch recently wrote: “Given the ever- accelerating depletion of nature, how can we write honestly about wildlife without acknowledging we are in a catastrophe? At best, I worry about being complacent, at worst complicit.” But this need not be the future.
As the Dorset Council has said in a letter to Ministers: “For too long, many people have seen the potential adoption of greener policies and the transformation of our economy, both at a national and local level, as a negative. That by addressing the climate and ecological emergency and putting environmental benefits ahead of all else, it will mean a level of sacrifice and compromise that some people are not willing to accept. It does not need to be this way. We just need to change our focus to building prosperity around a sustainable economy, rather than slip back into old habits and traditional areas of development that can harm our environment.”
A Dorset National Park can help deliver these positive solutions and help us all achieve a more sustainable future. Working hand in hand with the Dorset Council, communities and others it can help develop sustainable policies for a thriving, greener economy, for transport, tourism and energy for rural Dorset. The South Downs National Park (SDNP) is implementing policies to achieve net zero for its operations by 2030 and net zero for its area by around 2040. It has the largest off-shore wind farm in southern England and is not opposed to this being expanded. The SDNP secured a multi-million pound funding package to improve the provision of sustainable transport, improve rural bus services and invest in new cycle ways.
A Dorset National Park can work with landowners and farmers to help secure economic opportunities and a successful, thriving future. Farmers and land managers are the guardians of the landscape. As in the South Downs, a Dorset National Park can support them to produce and market healthy Dorset food and drink and help them access new ”public benefit” from funding the will help nature and ecosystems to recover. Landscape recovery funding is more likely to be accessible when landowners and farmers work together at scale. A National Park can help landowner and farmer-led partnerships to develop long term plans for a successful, viable future through business streams including food and food products, thriving nature and ecosystem services (e.g. healthy soils, clean water, carbon capture,) and diversification (e.g.the re-purposing of redundant buildings.) The South Downs National Park Local Plans the specific aim of supporting and improving farm viability, and that National Park works in close partnership with the CLA and NFU, for example to develop and propose funding schemes and to support land manager-led clusters and partnerships.
A National Park can help Dorset build the homes that people need. There is a shortage of truly affordable homes to help retain and attract the young families who are vital to sustaining local communities and services including schools, and who are the lifeblood of Dorset’s future economy. In a national CPRE/YouGov survey of over 1,000 young people aged 16-25 living in rural areas, only two in five expect to stay in the countryside over the next five years. The lack of affordable housing was their biggest concern, with a massive 84% telling us the chronic absence of suitable housing was a major factor in them being likely to leave.”2 A report for Dorset CPRE confirmed he shortage of affordable homes for local people.
2. https://www.cpre.org.uk/news/young-people-cpre-report/ Images above courtesy of David Brown and John Bish