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National parks - disastrous for wildlife



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,541
    edited April 2022
    We live in a National Park.  The Peak District is surrounded by large cities such as Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham as well as hundreds of smaller towns.

    Each year the resident population of 38,000 “welcomes” 13.25 million visitors.

    Many people who come to Bakewell (population 3,000) for example, come for a fish and chip carry out or a pot of tea and a bit of Bakewell tart. They never venture more than a few yards from where their car is parked. They provide jobs for the locals - tea shop workers and the street sweeper mostly.

    Some decide to go for a walk in the open country immediately around the town. Some have no idea why a gate should be kept shut. Some have dogs that are deaf to commands. I have had to call the local vet out on more than one occasion to put a sheep out of its misery. I doubt that the owners of the dogs even knew what those dogs had done as they were probably out of sight of their owners.

    Some people have a grasp of the countryside code but their millions of feet do irreparable damage to the moorland flora. There is a constant stream of volunteers trying to replant and renovate the peat bogs.

    The Peak District, though a National Park, is not one huge area of countryside. It contains thousands of domestic and commercial properties. Some of these properties are cared for in a way that is sympathetic to nature. Some are not. Bakewell has its fair share of paved-over front gardens and tarmacked driveways.

    Few trees that I know of have any special protection. The local authority has no powers to prevent their destruction even though they can deny some residents the benefit of energy saving double glazing, on the grounds that it is not in keeping with their idea of how a modern town should look ie like something from a Jane Austen novel.

    Even in the time that I have lived here the landscape has changed. About 80% of the trees around our house are (were) ash. They are on both private land and public land. There just isn’t the money to fell them all so they lean and drop their denuded branches and give off an air of death and decrepitude to the view. The three families of spotted woodpecker that lived here five years ago have all gone.

    There are just too many people with their own transport. When I was a child a visit to Bakewell involved three bus journeys in each direction. It took a good hour and a half to get from our house to the centre of Bakewell. It was a treat. Now anybody more or less can hop in the car and be there in half the time.

    There will be no hope for wildlife while that is the case.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 212
    These parks were not designated with wildlife at the fore. Unfortunately they've become synonymous with the 'wild' for many people in the UK, which contributes to the shifting baseline of what is biologically diverse. Overgrazing, deforestation and drainage have all contributed to our uplands being completely degraded (and I say this as someone who grew up on an upland hill farm with sheep!). Sadly a lot of people don't realise this, and feel that these are our wild spaces and shouldn't be changed from the way they are now.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    Well, there may be problems but national parks at least acknowledge that green spaces are good things and that people, as well as wildlife, need them. We need to be educated to use them well and many areas could be more friendly to wildlife but the alternative in many countries is just to build anything anywhere.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,046
    Agree with BlueBirder, they weren't created for biodoversity as such, it's more about preserving the distinctiveness of the landscape for human visitors. Overgrazed uplands look beautiful to us, but are biodiversity deserts. Managed for biodiversity, the South Downs or the Yorkshire Dales might look a lot different... covered in trees and scrub essentially!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Posy said:
     at least acknowledge that green spaces are good things for... wildlife.

    That's the point. Not really. Between the sheep, the grouse rearing, the full on house building and the visitors, it really doesn't stand a chance.

    These parks were not designated with wildlife.
    I agree. But ecologists have been banging on this door for decades. We now know how to effectively design wildlife landscapes as whole systems not just individual species. We have a lot of global learning behind this and we remain at a standstill.

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited April 2022
    Yes, our whole valuing of biodiverse systems needs to change. People still oo and ahhh over an empty green field because it's green - as if that is inherently useful.

    We don't the time that the public think we have. So many species are red-listed, so many habitats nearly gone.

    People see this and think "isn't it a wonderful view" - not "total treeless, scalped, wildlife desert".

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,637
    My literal next door "neighbour" is the South Downs National Park which is described as a working landscape although the apt expression "sheepwrecked" could be used to describe parts of it. Although only 4% of it is chalk grasslands that is what many people think of as the entire South Downs landscape. The park contains a very wide variety of habitats but currently only 25% of it is managed for nature. Renaturing plans hope to increase this in future.
    However 117,000 people live and work within it and a further 2 million live within 5km of its boundary so it will never become a truly wild place again.
    I take heart in knowing that we now have beavers and otters within a couple of miles of us. Our local natural history societies and wildlife trusts are very active in raising awareness of and protecting the nature around us so I have a more positive view for the future even here in the crowded South East of England.

  • seacrowsseacrows Posts: 221
    I grew up on the edge of Sheffield. As a tiny child my grandparents would take me to wonderful wildlife-full places. Looking back, these places were nearly all ear marked for building on, as they were contributing no 'production'. As a schoolchild I was very much aware that the green 'moors'  were a landscape maintained to look picturesque. And now? I read about the decisions various trusts and land owners make and I'm confused.

    One example, taking the sheep off high level peat based land. When the bracken starts taking over, deciding to burn strips in an every other year pattern. Now fire is a publicised hazard, they are using tractors with a rake-type attachment (probably got a proper name). In the meantime the locals are jumping and and down shouting PUT THE F#*+! SHEEP BACK.

    When did common sense stop being common?
  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 212
    @seacrowsThe sheep aren't great for uplands. In fact they're pretty disastrous. They cause practically irreparable changes to the vegetation structure, vegetation types and the structure of the soil. They also change the nutrient levels of the soil through their waste. They are farmed at much higher densities than natural herbivores would occur (in the presence of predators).

    Not saying burning is good either! But neither sheep nor burning is the answer for wildlife. For wildlife, native upland trees and shrubs are the way forward (in most cases). 
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