Some of the UK's most breathtaking landscapes will be turned into national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to help protect the country's rich biodiversity, the government has announced.
As part of their 25-year Environment Plan, the project is expected to restore the equivalent of 30,000 football pitches into wildlife-rich habitats, clean up pollution, create areas of woodland, and restore wetland.
While there are currently 15 national parks around the UK — including the South Downs in Sussex, New Forest, Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales — these ambitious plans will see more come to pass over a period of 25 years, giving everyone the chance to soak up nature.
Brilliantly, too, there are also hopes this scheme will help provide shelter for species such as the curlew, nightingale, horseshoe bat, pine marten, red squirrel and wild orchids.
"As we build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic, we are committed to shaping a cleaner and more resilient society to protect and restore our natural environment and diverse ecosystems," Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said.
"By starting the process for designating more of our beautiful and iconic landscapes as national parks and AONBs, and through the new landscape recovery projects, we will help expand and protect precious wildlife habitats and, vitally, increase people’s access to our treasured landscapes."
Natural England Chair, Tony Juniper, added: "A healthy natural environment is not only important for wildlife but also for the health of society and our economy.
"By investing in nature we can reap rich returns, for example in public health and wellbeing, catching carbon from the air, helping us adapt to the changing climate, ensuring supplies of clean water, boosting tourism and protecting our future food security."
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