Shake-up of England's national parks should be based on robust assessment

Posted by Daniel Allen on 8/10/2019


The recently released Glover Review calls for radical changes in the way England's underperforming national parks are managed. Those changes should be based on the comprehensive and cutting edge assessment of both biodiversity and people.    


Snowdonia National Park. Photo: Daniel Allen


Seizing the moment

Released in September, the long-awaited Landscapes Review (widely known as the Glover Review, after its author), is a thorough, thought-provoking, creative  document. While it praises the work of England's 40-plus "national landscapes", which include such iconic places as the Lake District and Dartmoor, it calls for a fresh focus, increased investment and sweeping management changes to stop ongoing declines in wildlife, and to reconnect the British population with the wild nature and landscapes on their doorstep.


The urgency of making such changes are highlighted by the even more recently released State of Nature 2019 Report, which paints an even bleaker picture of the current status of UK wildlife.


Against the backdrop of such worrying trends, Ecosulis Nature Recovery Lead Dr. Paul Jepson believes now is the moment to seize the initiative and embark on a road to recovery that can not only revitalise the UK's cherished natural heritage, but inspire, energise and unify British society.


"As the Glover Review systematically highlights, we are now at the point where we need to rethink our relationship with the land, nature and food," says Jepson.


"The UK government talks about enhancing and restoring habitats and landscapes, while 2020-2030 has been declared the UN's Decade on Ecological Restoration," he continues. "So let's invest our time, effort and money on restoring the UK based on rewilding principles. Groundbreaking projects such as Cairngorms Connect and Wild Ennerdale are showing the way."


The Landscapes Review calls for sweeping changes in the way England's national

parks are managed, including regular and robust monitoring and assessment.


Assessment failure

Even before the Glover Review was released, it was clear that England's (and the UK's) national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) were not doing enough to protect wild nature or connect with large swathes of British society. Part of the reason for this is that they aren't being monitored properly.  


Data released in 2018 revealed that of England's 4,126 sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), nearly half had not been examined in the previous six years, despite the requirement of national monitoring guidelines. Many parts of the Pennines, Exmoor and some of the best-loved parts of the Lake District have not been monitored for close to a decade.


Given this rather shocking deficiency, it's little surprise that the second proposal of the Glover Review reads:


"The state of nature and natural capital in our national landscapes should be regularly and robustly assessed, informing the priorities for action."


Bioscapes from Ecosulis

Today Ecosulis is carrying out monitoring work in a growing number of UK national parks. In the Brecon Beacons, for example, we are compiling grant applications to implement the park-wide monitoring of biodiversity. This will include the surveying of fungi, bryophytes, moths, bats, birds and soils. And in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park we are using our proprietary Biodiversity Quality Calculator to monitor the control of Himalayan balsam, with the aim of informing future management and cost/benefit analysis.


Ideally suited to national parks and other extensive areas of wild nature, the  innovative Bioscapes service from Ecosulis is a comprehensive, cutting edge landscape-scale monitoring service for the assessment of both biodiversity and people.


"When it is undertaken, landscape-scale monitoring in the UK is frequently patchy and sporadic," says Ecosulis Biodiversity Assessment Specialist Sara King. "The data it provides is too scant to measure changes in biodiversity properly, which leads to poorly informed decision making.


"Bioscapes encompasses everything from biodiversity quality and soil monitoring to engagement analysis and culturomics," she continues. "It is designed to give managers of extensive natural spaces all the information they need to make the optimum decisions - for people and wild nature."  


Want to know more?


For a no obligation discussion about how Bioscapes might add value to your project or business, please contact Sara King, Ecosulis Biodiversity Assessment Specialist ( / 01225 876 974).