Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Recognition for Work to Keep Country Gems Shining

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Recognition for Work to Keep Country Gems Shining

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON ENVIRONMENT

THE efforts of Northumberland National Park are highlighted in a new Government report which seeks to maximise the value of the country's top landscapes.

Northumberland is held up a case study for initiatives such as its Dark Skies project and its plans to open The Sill landscape discovery centre near Hadrian's Wall next year.

Among the aims of the plan for national parks is to connect more young people with nature.

The plan's target is to involve more than 60,000 young people per year through schools visits by 2017/18 and provide a new package of teaching materials for schools based on national parks and park authorities.

The report says that today, just 10% of schoolchildren have access to outdoor learning while recent research suggests that up 1.3 million children UK-wide did not visit, or rarely visited, natural places in the last year.

Under the new plan, every child in England will have the chance to visit a national park at each stage of their education.

With over half of the population in England living within an hour of a national park, the plan aims to increase the diversity of visitors from the UKas well as promoting these top landscapes to a global audience through the GREAT campaign to drive international tourism.

The aim is to build annual visitor numbers to 100 million, bringing around PS440m more to local businesses, adding to the PS4bn already generated by national parks.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "National parks already make a major contribution to our rural economybut too many children in our country are not aware of these natural wonders.

"I want to celebrate our inspiring natural environment so more visitors than ever before can enjoy the majestic Lakes and tranquil Northumberland."

The plan also aims to harness the power of the natural environment to improve national well-being, after research published earlier this month by Natural England showed taking part in nature-based activities can contribute to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression.

Northumberland National Park Authority chairman Glen Sanderson said: "I'm delighted to see education at the very heart of the Government's Plan for National Parks. …

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