The Review commissioned by Michael Gove and led by Julian Glover has just published its final report and it is entitled ‘Landscapes Review’. It can be downloaded from the Defra website here.
This isn’t a full review of the report but highlights a few of the comments in it that relate to ‘cultural landscapes’ and IUCN Category V protected areas.
They are places which are lived in and farmed, as well as places full of nature, known by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as ‘Category V’: “areas where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value”.
The 2016 report from the IUCN, Putting nature on the map, is a useful starting point because it recognises that our national landscapes are different from many others elsewhere in the world.
It states that landscape designation in England is based on “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long‐term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”. These ‘Category V’ designations, which the UK led the way with, recognise the importance of protecting lived‐in landscapes. “In the case of conflict, nature conservation will be the priority,” it adds. (p25)
To do this, we need people and nature to work together. We should encourage creative harmony.
They should do this through management which protects and enhances their special qualities as landscapes shaped by human and natural activity.
They should become exemplars of the IUCN’s Category V landscapes, supporting the very best in nature and natural beauty. (p36)
Revised National Park Purpose and Duty No. 1
A revised statutory purpose that combines natural beauty and cultural heritage with the delivery of biodiversity and natural capital would be very significant. It would be a new statement of the national importance of our national landscapes in providing vital, life supporting ecosystem services, to be placed alongside their established role in protecting landscape and nature of national importance. It would also help enshrine the essential link between people and nature. (p38)
The Glover Review Team have strongly sided with Cultural Landscapes – an article I wrote in 2017 about the designation of the Lake District as a World Heritage Site and cultural landscape gives some indication of the controversy around such a notion – see here. This second piece also shows how the cultural environment and natural environment can collide – see here.
That said, the Review team are also very strong in saying that National Parks and AONBs, to be called in future National Landscapes, need a ‘renewed mission to recover and enhance nature’.
Any hill-farmers reading this will no doubt be very relieved – the rewilders may not be
I suspect in the coming days we may hear more about this ……. as I haven’t seen anything yet …..