The third year’s delivery of the 2018-23 Peak District National Park Management Plan has been one nobody could have anticipated. In a year like no other, we are still waiting patiently for what everyone hopes will be the last restrictions after lock down to lift.
As we start to reflect on the year that has gone, I must say thank you to all our communities, volunteers and rangers who have stepped up to deal with the impact of waves of new visitors who were often quite unfamiliar with the areas of the countryside they were exploring. As well as the numerous individuals who have risen to the diverse challenges of the pandemic.
With resources directed to dealing with the pandemic and facilities closed, many work programmes have been put on hold. However despite these constrained times essential work has also gone on undeterred. Appreciation goes to the Moors for the Future Partnership for the completion of their largest annual work programme in their history with 1036 Ha of sphagnum planted and almost 10,000 dams installed plus a wide variety of other work to secure our upland landscape. Also several bird of prey species showed encouraging breeding successes, thanks to collaboration between landowners, gamekeepers and raptor workers. Peregrine falcons had their best year in a decade, with all six known nesting attempts being successful, resulting in a record 14 fledged young. The levels of occupied bird of prey territories continue to present an ongoing challenge, but the progress of peregrine and goshawk this year shows us what can be achieved.
Though the end now seems in sight, for the National Park there are still more questions than answers. Will visitors surge back to the place and continue to do so once alternative venues are fully open? What long term impact will all this have on the hospitality sector and local economy?
For land management the future also looks less than certain, but hopefully promising. The tests and trials to inform the new farming support package are now complete and have reported their findings. Potentially this could usher in a new era of supporting farmers more directly for the public goods they provide, bolstering working protected landscapes such as the National Park.
Looking forward, the pressing matter of climate change must not slip from the agenda as we seek to build back stronger and develop our green recovery. In these uncertain and changeable times the strength of our partnerships will be key to making an effective recovery which endures. The following pages provide more detail on our progress in 2020/21 delivery of the Peak District National Park Management Plan 2018-23. Please feel proud of what we have achieved so far and consider how you may continue to support delivering these intentions in the future.
Independent Chair of the Peak District National Park Management Plan Advisory Group