Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes: Many of our members and supporters live, work and farm in National Parks, and are rightly proud to be their custodians. The National Parks were designated precisely because they are special landscapes created by generations of farmers. The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) played a leading role in their creation and continues to campaign on issues relating to National Parks, supported by a wide range of statutory and non-governmental organisations.
It is more than a little surprising therefore that CNP is marking its 80th anniversary with a survey to establish what the public feels about National Parks, which asks whether shooting, an activity central to the life and livelihoods of many who live in them, should be banned. CNP does not, however, include shooting in the list of activities that people might enjoy in national parks.
To put this extraordinary approach into context Exmoor National Park, which is represented on the CNP council, has produced its own study into the role of game shooting which showed that shooting generated £18 million for the local economy annually, generating much-needed income for farmers, hotels, pubs and guest houses at a time of year that is otherwise difficult for these rural communities. Shooting interests also invested £1.2million and 4,700 labour days into conservation on Exmoor every year.
As the Chairman of Exmoor National Park wrote in the foreword to that report: “Not only is [shooting] a significant contributor to the economy of the area, but the shoots also invest considerable resources in managing the environment and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the area. We look forward to using this information to continue to work with the shoots on Exmoor to bring benefits to the National Park, its environment and communities.”
To highlight shooting as something to ban in National Parks, rather than something to celebrate, therefore betrays the people and wildlife that it supports.
We fully back the stated aims of the CNP in protecting and promoting National Parks, but alienating a significant proportion of those who live and work in them is not the way to go about it.
Those of you who understand and appreciate the value of shooting can respond to this survey and redress the balance by entering “Shooting” into the “Other” box as something they enjoy in National Parks. The survey can be found here.