Crisis serves as time to reflect on value of national parks, charity boss says

A time of reflection must be drawn from the crisis, a Dales charity executive has said, as communities pause to consider a new appreciation of National Parks’ role in society.

The River Bain which flows through the centre of the rural village of Bainbridge in the Richmondshire district of North Yorkshire. Picture: James Hardisty

David Sharrod, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s chief executive, said the charity is still fielding calls from the public hoping to plant trees in the National Park, even as it furloughs some of its staff and calls a pause on its work with disadvantaged youngsters.

There has never been a greater appreciation of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Mr Sharrod – inset – added, as people are denied access to its landscapes.

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“The living world doesn’t take much notice of us, there are no goats roaming the streets as they were in Wales,” he said. “The change isn’t in the world – it’s in people.”

David Sharrod, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

The skies have “never been so blue”, he said, with no planes to be seen, and the birdsong has never seemed louder outside his home in Ingleton in North Yorkshire.

“Just talking to neighbours, they all notice,” Mr Sharrod said. “They’re all talking about the dark skies, and turning out to watch the meteorites.

“We see our role really, coming out of this, in reconnecting people with nature, and in supporting our economies which are heavily reliant on tourism.

“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It’s about balance. In the end, we need to value each other.”

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The first foundations for what later became the National Parks’ network had been lain in wartime Britain, said Mr Sharrod, as people thought ahead in the country’s darkest time.

“I hope people use this time to reflect on what they really value,” he added.

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