Figures released today by the UK Climate Impact Programme foresee that the wellbeing of people living in Britain will be significantly affected unless more is done to mitigate and adapt to the increasingly likely effects of climate change. The strongest impacts will be on National Parks across the country as lower rainfalls in summer and higher in winter are predicted, with much higher average seasonal temperatures by the 2080s. Wales’ low economic base, small population and high reliance on rural livelihoods are now threatened assets in a changing climate and this is no more so than in the National Parks.
National Parks have joined forces across Britain to look at ways to respond to climate change and are prepared to play an increasingly important role that compliments their existing designation as nationally important protected areas – but they need other organisations and decision makers to recognise the vital role that they can and must play.
The Chairman of the Welsh Association of National Park Authorities, Cllr. Simon Hancock, commented:
“The news from the UK Climate Impact Programme is unfortunate, but it lends even more weight to ensuring there are protected areas such as National Parks, which are now more important and more fragile than ever, vital barometers for the changes now upon us.
“The sheer diversity within all three National Parks in Wales, plus the planning, natural resource management and education expertise within National Park Authorities puts us in an ideal position to test out measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“National Park Authorities throughout Britain are already working on projects addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development. We share that knowledge and expertise with each other and with the wider family of protected areas – only last week all our ecologists and biodiversity specialists met together in the Norfolk Broads to consider the best responses to climate change.
“We look forward to working with Local Government to share our experiences and look to national Government to continue to provide the leadership and vital investment that’s required to ensure our National Parks fulfil the active role they should be given from now on.”
Paul Sinnadurai, Senior Ecologist and Policy Advisor for the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority who recently attended the Ecologists’ workshop in the Norfolk Broads had this to say: “Welsh National Parks feature some of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes across Britain but also contain Wales’ highest, lowest, warmest, coldest, wettest and driest places. This means that our National Parks are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and so too are the people who live and work in them.
“Wales’ National Parks were the first in Britain to raise awareness of the importance of climate change to all the National Parks and the vital role that they can and must play in leading rural responses to it. In essence we should see our National Parks as living laboratories, testing out the impacts of different kinds of green technology and natural resource management- and that’s exactly what we’re seeing with community-led projects like the Green Valleys initiative which is currently in the running for NESTA’s £1 million Big Green Challenge.
“Projects like these have the potential to redefine how people value their landscape and its natural resources, are possibly the best and only way that countries as a whole will be able to respond effectively, working together intelligently, from the bottom up rather than the top down. If the Government wants to try and make a difference to the future described in today’s report they will need to invest in using National Parks like this.”
Notes for Editors
The Welsh Association of National Park Authorities (WANPA) is a partnership between the three Welsh national Park Authorities. It is made up of:
- Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority
- Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
- Snowdonia National Park Authority
The latest projections of the UK Climate Impact Programme and additional information can be found here: http://www.ukcip.org.uk
For further information on WANPA or each of the constituent National Park Authorities please contact:
Welsh Policy Officer
Welsh Association of National Park Authorities