The 91-year-old national youth charity YHA (England & Wales) has revealed its hopes ahead of Defra’s response to the Glover Review being published.
James Blake, Chief Executive of YHA said: “We look forward to reading the detail of the government’s response. Partnerships are critical to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of our landscapes and we welcome the trailed commitment to support collaboration.
“Protecting our National Landscapes is the primary purpose for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – work that YHA directly supports through our network of hostels and education programmes on areas such as the Countryside Code and connections to nature.
“But it is important that, in responding to the Review, government balances this with a commitment to equitable access. We would urge that the partnerships supported by government include representatives from the many small groups, outdoor education providers and social tourism bodies, both locally and nationally, that are already working hard to successfully support access to and inclusion in the outdoors.
“YHA’s active campaigning throughout its history, for greater access for all, especially young people, has shown us that change can only be achieved through collaboration. Equitable access is YHA’s priority and we would look forward to working with Defra on how to make access for all a reality.”
Without access being given equal billing alongside conservation in Defra’s response, there are concerns that Glover’s call for a night in a national landscape for every child will be forgotten.
With around two million children locked down without access to green space at the height of the pandemic, increased accessibility to the outdoors is now more important than ever as the country recovers.
James added: “A night under the stars for every child is a bold ambition but achievable with support, collaboration and central government funding as we are proving with our Generation Green project. We hope Defra provides an equally bold response to Glover’s inspiring vision, building on programmes like Generation Green which we know work.”
In December 2020, a £2.5 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund grant awarded to Access Unlimited, a coalition of six not-for-profit outdoor education providers led by YHA, to deliver the Generation Green Project, was the first step in government support for the Glover Review recommendation that every child should spend a night under the stars in a National Landscape.
Shared by the six coalition members – YHA, Scouts, Girlguiding, The Field Studies Council, The Outward Bound Trust and the 10 National Parks in England, the grant funded the ambitious Generation Green Project which prioritises young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and coastal communities. Through the 16-month project, which ends in March, more than 100,000 young people will have already been given meaningful opportunities to connect with the outdoors.
“COVID-19 has shown us the value so many of us place on accessing nature and culture, and the stark reality that over two million young people faced lockdown without access to a garden or local green space. As our hostels opened up, we welcomed more people from all parts of society than ever before, but this has shown us how many more we are still not able to reach.
“As a leader in social tourism, connecting one million people to national landscapes each year, YHA looks forward to working with Defra to ensure even more young people, families and individuals benefit from time outside” added James.
“Further government funding would enable Glover’s ambition to be achieved and create ongoing connection with nature benefitting future generations. If we fail to create sustainable connections to the outdoors then, without continued funding, we risk losing some of the nation’s most vital assets – like youth hostels and rural bus services, that facilitate access for all.”