The UK is set to get a number of new national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as part of the government’s 25-year Environment Plan.
While it hasn’t specified how many national parks and AONBs will be created, or indeed where they will be located, the government said the move would “increase access to nature for communities and better protect the country’s rich wildlife and biodiversity”.
In addition, the government will also be launching 10 “Landscape Recovery” projects in England that will restore peatlands, woodlands and create “wilder landscapes”.
These will be delivered as part of the Environmental Land Management scheme over the next four years.
It’s hoped these additional projects will help establish habitats for animals and plants including the curlew, nightingale, horseshoe bat, pine marten, red squirrel and wild orchid, which have been flourishing under similar initiatives.
The project is expected to restore the equivalent of 30,000 football pitches into wildlife-rich habitats.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Saturday: “As we build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic, we are committed to shaping a cleaner and more resilient society to protect and restore our natural environment and diverse ecosystems.
“Today’s announcement illustrates how we are leading the world in protecting the natural environment and combating climate change.
“By starting the process for designating more of our beautiful and iconic landscapes as National Parks and AONBs, and through the new Landscape Recovery projects, we will help expand and protect precious wildlife habitats and, vitally, increase people’s access to our treasured landscapes.”
There are currently 15 national parks across the UK, 10 of which are in England. The areas are protected under law that seeks to “conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage” of the area.
The UK’s 46 AONB receive similar protection.