There are landscapes across the world which attract attention for their great and special beauty, and as havens for wildlife or as places with a greater diversity of flowers and plants. They are the product of unique combinations of geology, biodiversity, climate and sometimes human activity including traditional farming.They are the destination of many visitors who come to walk, run, swim, cycle , fish, climb, photograph and research; or simply to look and see and marvel at the wonders of nature. Many are designated and protected by national or international legislation in efforts to secure them for the future in a sustainable way.
Human demand for resources is a constant pressure on these landscapes. Whether regulating legitimate demands such as water needs, or tackling criminality – for example, corrupt governmental collusion with companies to circumvent forest protection, or the killing of elephants for ivory – protecting these landscapes can never be a matter of complacency. Legislation and funding can rarely be weakened or withdrawn without a detrimental effect. Independent monitoring and campaigning by civil society groups such as NGOs and pressure groups is an ongoing necessity to ensure that governments and politicians fulfil their responsibilities towards these landscapes.
Today I have chosen a photograph of Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is one of a number of popular and beautiful national parks clustered in northern Britain, most of them only an hour or two by car or public transport from a major city. Each of these parks has its own remarkably distinctive set of characteristics and beauty.
In most cases however the landscape we see is sustained by traditional farming. This farming is very vulnerable to economic and political changes. Farming and the activities which support sustainable farming communities in these areas are as much in need of detailed consideration and protection by government and all of us who enjoy these landscapes, as the plants and wildlife found there.
“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” Wendell Berry