Nature recovery in Yorkshire Dales is people’s priority, study finds

Askrigg in Wensleydale. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Nature recovery should be the number one priority for the next Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan, people have said.

In January a consultation was launched in which the public was asked to rank their top six priorities for organisations working in the national park.

Nearly 1,100 individuals and 27 organisations completed an online survey.

Of 18 potential priorities, ‘help nature to recover by creating, restoring and connecting important habitats’ was ranked first by all groups of respondents, including those who live or work in the national park. Protecting rare and threatened species came second, with improving river water quality third.

More than 500 local people took part in the survey.  Their top three priorities were nature recovery, helping younger people to live/work in the National Park, and reducing the impact of second homes and holiday lets.

The National Park Management Plan is a five-year work programme, which is produced and monitored by a Partnership of local organisations, including farming, landowning and tourism business interests.

The partnership met in March to consider the survey results.

It is expecting to publish fact-filled evidence reports later this spring, and will hold a stakeholder engagement event for local organisations in May.

A full draft National Park Management Plan to cover the period 2025-2030 will be published for public consultation before the end of the year.

The chair of the partnership, David Sharrod, who is chief executive of Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, said:  “Thank you to everyone who took the survey.

“Receiving well over 1,000 responses is a great result.

“It is really striking that helping nature to recover came top of the list of 18 potential priorities.

“It reflects growing public awareness of the national nature emergency, and the urgency with which people want to address it here in the national park.

“It was also clear that – for the people who live here – helping younger people to access housing and jobs, and getting more of the housing stock back into permanent residential use are key issues.

“The results of the consultation will be taken into account as we update the management plan to cover the five-year period from April 2025.  Ambitious objectives on nature recovery are certain to be included.

“It’s great that we already have a detailed Nature Recovery Plan for the national park, which was published last September, to draw on.”

The National Park Management Plan public consultation, which took the form of an online survey, was launched on 15 January 2024 and ran for a period of 6 weeks.

A full summary of the results is here.