More trees, more visitors and more sheep could all be accommodated within the North York Moors National Park without harming its special qualities, according to a document on which the public is now being asked to comment. These aims along with others such as decreasing energy use and safeguarding rural communities are set out in a draft Management Plan that will guide what will happens in the National Park over the next five years. A public consultation has been launched on the draft plan before it is formally adopted in March 2012.
Since park's the last Management Plan was written in 2004 national priorities in land management have shifted a little towards a need to produce more food, move to sustainable energy and reverse wildlife loss. The draft Management Plan has been produced following discussions with a wide range of organisations and groups and, says the Park Authority, addresses these challenges head-on.
Included are aims to:
- Plant an additional 500 hectares of trees and woodland by 2017
- Create or restore an additional 500 hectares of species rich grassland by 2017
- Increase food production within the National Park. It is felt that an additional 6000 moor sheep and a 5% increase in crop yields could be accommodated
- Raise awareness of the North York Moors and strengthen its 'brand'. The plan states that the National Park could accommodate an extra 1 million visitors (from 6.4 million in 2010) particularly in the autumn and winter months without harming the landscape, wildlife and tranquillity of the area
- Carry out work to remove 50 scheduled monuments and 35 listed buildings from the 'at risk' register
- Secure high speed broadband for all households within the National Park by 2017
- Build ten affordable homes each year (is that all?)
- Protect the tranquillity and 'spiritual qualities' of the Park
The Plan argues that with the right policies, investment and management, the North York Moors could deliver more. There are clear limits however: more food production could cause damage if done in the wrong way; if they are not to have a negative impact more visitors need to come at the right time and by the right means.
Andy Wilson, the National Park Authority's Chief Executive, said:
'This Plan breaks new ground by considering what the Park could produce. Our assessment is positive, but not open ended. The Authority would not want to sacrifice the tranquillity and beauty of the Moors, which have given solace for thousands of years, for short term gain.'
This Management Plan will have an impact on those who live and work in the North York Moors and the many who visit the area, climbers and hillwalkers included.
'It is not just the National Park Authority's plan' the authority insist. 'To succeed it would need the support of a wide range of people, organisations and groups. We would therefore like to hear from as many people as possible about whether the plan reflects the aspirations of those who care about the North York Moors.
The draft management plan and accompanying questionnaire can be viewed at on the National Park website. Paper copies will also be available locally, along with displays at the two National Park Centres, Guisborough Forest visitor centre and in a mobile display unit at Robin Hood's Bay. The closing date for public comments is Friday 23 December.