A proposal for a residential experience for every schoolchild made in the Landscapes Review has been welcomed by the YHA.
The independent review was commissioned by former environment secretary Michael Gove in May 2018. It considered whether the protections for national parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose and was published on 21 September 2019.
Led by the writer Julian Glover, it calls for national parks (which cover nearly a quarter of England) to have a clear mission to reverse environmental decline, assisted by 1,000 new rangers. Amongst a number of proposals, it recommends that every child should be given the chance to visit the parks including an overnight stay.
Studies show that just five minutes of ‘green exercise’ can improve a child’s mental wellbeing, making the opportunity to have adventures in the outdoors vitally important to developing their confidence, resilience and ambition for the future.
Youth charity YHA has 64 youth hostels in or close by all national parks in England and Wales. Over the last 12 months 147,232 under 26s have stayed in YHAs in these areas, accounting for nearly 40% of the visits by under 26s to YHA’s network of 153 properties.
Commenting on the report, James Blake, chief executive of YHA, said: “I am delighted to see the proposals in this review. It highlights the fact that we have lost sight of the importance of our landscapes in the lives of young people. This is an opportunity to link national parks with arts and heritage and focus on access for all.
“We know that children and young people who benefit most from a stay in the outdoors are consistently those that have least access. We must work together to ensure this really means every child.”
To read the report, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review