Many people have been helped to enjoy and better understand the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the past year, a meeting has heard today.
Farm open days, outdoor classes for schools and volunteer-led nature walks were among the activities run by a wide range of local partners participating in the National Park Management Plan.
Nearly 6,000 young people engaged with the natural environment through organised activities in the year to the end of March. This work has continued into this year, for example with families from Leeds spending a day in Malham earlier this month (see feature image – and note below).
Under-represented groups were also attracted by days out, such as those who went on a Muslim Hikers-organised trip to the summit of Whernside in March (picture below).
An overview of the progress being made on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan was presented to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority this morning. The progress report had been put together by the Management Plan Steering Group – made up of 15 local organisations and representatives of local businesses and landowners.
The Management Plan covers the period 2019 to 2024 and commits the organisations behind it to achieving 49 objectives. The meeting of the National Park Authority meeting heard that good progress was being made on most of the objectives. In particular, all 11 of the objectives relating to being a ‘welcoming place’ had been achieved or were on course to be achieved.
One member of the Management Plan Steering Group, Anthony Bradley, representing the Yorkshire Dales Farming Network, is getting personally involved in meeting one of the objectives. A few weeks ago he led a walk from Long Preston in Craven to his livestock farm nearby, as part of a programme of farm and estate open days
He said: “Some people are gawping at the landscape without understanding it. Having badgered for the farm open days to be an objective I thought I better put my hand up and run one. We used Eventbrite and about a dozen or more people came along. We chatted, looked at livestock, I answered questions. I dug a hole for them to see what carbon was. And people enjoyed it.
“I explained the different species of plants, the system of permanent grassland and ruminant livestock, the reason the fields sizes are as they are and the hedges that have been planted for wildlife corridors. We hope we’re raising awareness, promoting the value of farming activity in the National Park. The feedback I got was along the lines of ‘O, so that’s why you do that.’”
Chair of the Management Plan Steering Group, David Sharrod, who represents the charity, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, said: “There is much to celebrate in this year’s progress report. A real highlight of the past year has been the engagement work, with young people particularly, from all of the partners – organisations, local communities, farmers, businesses –as we welcomed back visitors, especially the many visiting for the first time or those who might not have thought the Dales was a place for them.”
“‘Lockdowns’ made so many appreciate what the Dales has to offer everyone: physical and mental refreshment, a connection with nature, and a sense of shared community between those who live here and those from further away.”
** Note on feature image: A family from Leeds visits Malham in the spring half term. The Leeds family day was a family visit organized by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Engagement and Wellbeing Officer, Kiri Wood. Families from Barca and The Feel Good Factor, both Leeds-based organisations, met at Leeds station and caught a train to Skipton and then a coach to Malham. The families from both organisations spent a day at Malham with Kiri and National Park Authority volunteers. The visit was planned as a family day out in Malham using public transport as much as possible to reduce the carbon footprint of the visit and explore getting to the National Park by public transport.