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Celebrating protected landscapes

27th March 2024

At CPRE Hampshire, we are incredibly proud to be the only county with two National Parks and three areas of outstanding beauty. Over 38% of Hampshire is protected landscape.

It is our role to promote, enhance and protect these unique landscapes to create a thriving Hampshire countryside that enriches all our lives:

“The inspiration may have been sparked by the romantic poets and the vast wilderness parks of the United States, but CPRE has been proud to play a role in not only advocating, but bringing into being our National Parks and National Landscapes. We played a key role on the 1936 Standing Committee on National Parks and continued to campaign, with pioneers like the inspirational Ethel Haythornthwaite, who championed protection and access to the Peak District and went on to serve on the National Parks Committee that built the case for the 1949 Act. Access for all and the protection of our wonderful protected landscapes remains part of our DNA – more important now than ever. Without them, places like Hampshire could look very different. With them, the people of Hampshire love and enjoy easy access to world class – and protected – landscapes.”

75 years of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949

It’s been 75 years since the ‘National Parks and Access to the Countryside‘ Act came into being, making the creation of legally protected landscapes possible. CPRE were instrumental in the creation of this Act and since then have worked within these legal parameters to protect and enhance our beautiful local countryside. It was an act which secured access for everyone to open countryside whilst preserving and enhancing natural beauty; founded on the understanding that connection with nature is essential to the health of people, society and the planet. This truly visionary legislation has had a vast and lasting impact on our relationship with the natural environment across the UK and is an achievement we must celebrate and not take for granted.

New Forest National Park

With its remarkable range of plants and animals, ancient tradition of commoning, varied history and distinctive local communities, the New Forest National Park is unique. There are 1,000 old trees, large ponds and bogs, and open heathlands home to many rare plant and animal species that have long ago disappeared from other parts of the UK.

“’The New Forest is an internationally important landscape for wildlife with a key role in leading nature recovery and our nation’s response to climate change. Shaped by grazing animals and the practice of commoning, the New Forest’s unique history is one of people living and working together as a community sustaining to the landscape and it’s nature continuously over millennia. The designation of the New Forest as a National Park in 2005 recognised the landscape as one of the most precious in the UK and internationally, but there is much more to do to ensure this landscape not only survives but thrives. Through our shared ‘Re:New Forest’ Partnership Plan 2022-2027, we are working with partners to support action for climate, nature, people and place. ‘Team New Forest’ aims to reach and inspire ever wider audiences who share in our ambition to protect and enhance our unique natural landscapes, by making them bigger, better and more joined up. We also work hard to attract the significant resources needed to make a difference to this living, working Forest, its people, landscapes, and wildlife.’ Alison Barnes, Chief Executive, New Forest National Park

South Downs National Park

With rolling hills, glorious heathland, river valleys, ancient woodland, thriving villages and market towns, and the iconic white cliffs of the Heritage Coast, there is much to explore within the South Downs National Park. Covering over 1600 sq km of England’s most valued lowland landscapes, it stretches from east of Winchester to Eastbourne,
offering inspirational landscapes, internationally important wildlife and a rich cultural heritage.

“A third of the National Park sits within Hampshire and it’s one of the most breathtaking, biodiverse and interesting rural landscapes in England. As we mark the 75th anniversary, we must never forget why this stretch of countryside has been nationally designated for protection and enhancement – namely for the benefit of both people and nature. Through our Partnership Management Plan, we continue to work collaboratively with local landowners, farmers, and communities to nurture a vibrant mixed-use landscape that serves multiple purposes, whether that be sustainable food production, new wildlife habitats, helping rural businesses or new access opportunities to connect people with our amazing countryside. We’ve achieved a lot in the first 14 years of the National Park and we’re excited about what the next few years will bring.” Tim Slaney, Chief Executive (Interim), South Downs National Park Authority.

This article is taken from the Spring/Summer edition of Hampshire Views which is posted to CPRE Hampshire members. Become a member and receive your free printed copy of Hampshire Views delivered to your home.

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