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Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has announced that the government will now be implementing a scheme to give every schoolchild in England the chance to visit a national park at each stage of their education.

The strategy is in response to new figures showing that only 10% of schoolchildren currently have access to outdoor learning.

“National Parks already welcome over 90 million visitors every year and make a major contribution to our vibrant rural economy—but too many children in our country are not aware of these natural wonders,” said Elizabeth Truss at the launch of the new Plan for National Parks. “By instilling a love of nature in our young people and building thriving communities in every National Park, our plan will allow these unique spaces to flourish for generations to come.”

What’s been pledged

  • At primary school: More than 80,000 children to visit National Parks and National Parks to be put on the curriculum.
  • At secondary school: a doubling of the number of youth volunteers in National Parks as part of the National Citizen Service;
  • First steps to employment:  the development of a new apprenticeship standard and a doubling of apprenticeships in National Parks by 2020.

Responses to the announcement so far:

Jim Bailey, Chair of National Parks England: 

“I look forward to working with the Government on delivering this exciting Plan for England’s National Parks.”

Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of the Campaign for National Parks: 

“It is fantastic that this Plan sets out the Government’s ambition to put National Parks at the heart of how we think about and manage the environment for future generations. The Campaign for National Parks has always believed that the National Parks are inspirational and special and we share the ambition that even more people, whether they are visiting or live or work in the Parks, should be able to benefit from these unique places.”

Andy Wilson, CEO at the North York Moors National Park Authority:

“We’re extremely excited about today’s news. We believe National Parks are a perfect place to understand and explore the natural environment. By working at an early stage with young people it gives us the best chance to help promote these unique spaces by providing education on nature-based activities.”

Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive at Friends of the Lake District:

“We should welcome any action that recognises that our National Parks are places with “special qualities” and establishes them squarely at the heart of Government’s thinking on the environment being managed for future generations.”