A friend sent me the set of ten stamps which celebrate our national parks: a lovely gift for a parkophile like me.
It is slightly confusing though. The blurb says that they commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the opening of the first of the UK’s 15 national parks.
Sadly, they are not the ‘UK’s’ national parks. Northern Ireland has none, despite a long battle for the Mourne Mountains. Scotland is inadequately served too: it was a long way behind England and Wales, with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs confirmed in 2002 and the Cairngorms in 2003—and much eligible land still on the waiting list, despite the best efforts of the brilliant Scottish Campaign for National Parks.
And the ten parks which are illustrated on the stamps are not the ten first ones. Here is the list in chronological order, with those illustrated on the stamps in bold. It’s a shame they couldn’t print 15 stamps, one for each park.
|Peak District||17 April 1951|
|Lake District||13 August 1951|
|Snowdonia||18 October 1951|
|Dartmoor||30 October 1951|
|Pembrokeshire Coast||29 February 1952|
|North York Moors||28 November 1952|
|Exmoor||19 October 1954|
|Yorkshire Dales||16 November 1954|
|Northumberland||6 April 1956|
|Brecon Beacons||17 April 1957|
|The Broads||1 April 1989|
|Loch Lomond and The Trossachs||19 July 2002|
|Cairngorms||25 March 2003|
|New Forest||1 April 2006|
|South Downs||31 March 2010|
Further information is on the National Parks UK website here.
However, it is excellent that Royal Mail is celebrating this important year, the seventieth anniversary of the confirmation of the first four national parks created by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. I hope the exquisite stamps will help to bring the parks to the attention of a new audience. But people also need to know that they were not won easily, and that there was a long campaign led, in England and Wales, by the Standing Committee on National Parks (now the feisty Campaign for National Parks).
Splendid, beautiful, wild and inspirational as the parks are, they are not safe. For 18 months we have awaited the government’s response to the Glover Review on protected landscapes (national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty) in England. The government should mark this anniversary year by implementing Glover’s recommendations which will give better protection to the parks, and promote greater understanding and appreciation of them among the population as a whole, and especially children.
Our parks and AONBs give excellent value for money. There should be long-term, secure, and sufficient funding; a statutory duty for other bodies to further the purposes of national parks and AONBs; management plans with measurable targets for nature recovery and combatting the climate crisis; an opportunity for every child to discover and explore them, and much more.
On 17 April we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the first of our national parks, the Peak District. Government should mark this with a bold and unequivocal statement about a secure and bright future for all our national parks and AONBs.
Postscript: BBC Countryfile this evening (28 March) had a story about national parks which starts at 10.41. Countryfile had heard that the government is planning to abolish the national park authorities, and AONB boards and committees, and replace them with a central national park service. This goes far beyond Julian Glover’s recommendation of a national landscape service, and he said so on the programme. It is a worrying development, but currently only a rumour.