Outdoor industry urges government to implement recommendations of Landscape Review

The UK outdoor industry has welcomed the findings of an independent review of England’s protected outdoor areas. Led by the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA), senior figures from the sector are urging political parties to adopt the recommendations of the Landscape Review and hope that it will be the catalyst for a step-change in the government’s approach to getting more of the general public active in the outdoors.

Commissioned by the environment secretary in May 2018 and published late last month, the Landscape Review is an independent report on the national park system and areas of outstanding natural beauty by former government aide and journalist Julian Glover. The review sets out ways in which protected areas can be “reignited” and made “open to everyone” and many of the report’s recommendations echo the positions that have been presented to the government by the Outdoor Industries Association and partners.

Working with other organisations in the outdoor recreation space, the OIA has been lobbying the government for several years, encouraging greater focus on the major role that the outdoors can play in creating a healthier, more active population. That work has been supported by MPs who OIA CEO Andrew Denton engages with on a regular basis, including David Rutley, a former environment minister, Rory Stewart, Tom Watson, and many more, some of whom have spoken at OIA conferences and other events.

As part of its public affairs campaign, in 2018 the OIA published its own report, ‘Manifesto for the Outdoor Economy’, bringing together multiple stakeholders to outline how to build a more active Britain outside. In the context of Brexit, the OIA is now at the heart of the formation of a new Outdoor Coalition that is currently taking shape, and which will update that document.

Andrew Denton, CEO of the Outdoor Industries Association, comments: “Large parts of the Landscape Review highlight exactly what the OIA has been preaching for years, clearly backing up what we have been saying about the importance and value to the general public of getting active outside, for both physical and mental wellbeing. We strongly endorse the findings presented by Julian Glover and will continue to robustly lobby on behalf of our sector, seeking to work with the government to shape and implement policy that helps current and future generations to spend more time in the many amazing landscapes that we have in this country.”

Among its suggestions, the report advocates the creation of a National Landscape Service to unify England’s 10 national parks and 34 areas of outstanding natural beauty, along with a 1,000-strong “ranger service” to help engage better with the public. Mr Glover also recommends that every schoolchild in England should get the opportunity to spend a night under the stars in a national park.

Martin Smith, chair of the Outdoor Council and a member of the Outdoor Coalition, adds: “The Outdoor Council welcomes the publication of the Landscape Review. The creation of a National Landscape Service illustrates the intent behind the report to really make the most of our special landscape resources and the recognition that such landscapes are a force for wellbeing goes back to the very roots of our national parks. Highlighting the need to fully open access for everyone is a long-held aspiration and engaging young people from an early age will help build sound foundations across the whole of British society. To this end, we particularly welcome the proposal for a night under the stars for every young person and look forward to supporting the delivery of this enlightened outcome.”

The Outdoor Industries Association’s Manifesto for the Outdoor Economy is available to read and download at theoia.co.uk/about/manifesto.