An accord between National Parks England and Public Health England explains how the two organisations plan to take joint action on improving health and wellbeing through England’s national parks.
England has 10 national parks: the Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales. These parks cover more than 9% of the country, are generally free at the point of access and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Half of England’s population also live within an hour’s travel of a national park.
The parks could be a valuable resource for improving health and wellbeing, as growing evidence supports the value of access to good quality green space for both physical and mental health. In addition, green spaces also provide environmental benefits, including greater air and water quality and a decreased risk of flooding.
National Parks England currently support public health outcomes in a variety of ways, including promoting walking and cycling and improving routes, running programmes to reduce health inequalities and support accessibility needs, working with schools and other education providers, encouraging economic development and providing volunteering opportunities.
The partnership will see National Parks England and Public Health England work together to ‘unlock and maximise the huge opportunity that national parks provide for delivering public health outcomes.’