THE FIRST report into the state of the South Downs National Park has been published, which could be key in shaping the economy of the future.
The report, which is the first time any organisation has looked at the total state of the park, outlines, among other details, the potential to build a more sustainable and buoyant economy by building jobs and communities.
The data, which has been compiled over the last two years is structured around seven special qualities put forward by 1,500 people.
With details about the potential to build a more sustainable and resilient future economy, the state of the South Downs report has been created through information provided from local authorities, agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Margaret Paren, chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “This report shows how the national park has the potential to provide huge opportunities for communities, businesses, volunteers and visitors to benefit from this special area while looking after it by, for example, using its resources more sustainably.”
The importance of the park to the national economy has been highlighted, with the value of the South Downs economy valued at £2.2bn annually.
Trevor Beattie, chief executive of the South Downs National Park Authority said: “Supporting the people and the businesses and the landscape of the South Downs is developing the economy and promoting the national economy, we can do both.
“Success for the South Downs National Park means success for the local economy and the national economy.”
Mr Beattie was confident the contents found within the report could help assist numerous groups and help boost the economy on a long-term basis.
“We see this as a really valuable resource. It can be used by community groups bidding for government funds, and for local authorities preparing yearly strategic plans.
“Or a business who wants to apply to government for more support: the report is for everyone in the National Park.
“The report is a growing, breathing and living document which we would like to develop over time.”
Mr Beattie said the community played a pivotal role in determining the seven special qualities found within the state of the South Downs report.
“They (the people) are the very structure of the report. The very structure of the report has been determined by the people who live and work in the National Park.”
The report also highlights the potentially positive impact on health and well-being that the South Downs can offer visitors.
It states there is growing evidence which demonstrates how access to nature and the opportunity for involvement in outdoor activity can have an impact on physical and mental health and well-being.
“We need to get across the message that accessing the environment of the South Downs is good for your health.
“It can be good for physical health and mental health and the more we can get people to access the park, the more money we will save the health service.
“It is not just preventative, it is fun as well.”
The South Downs National Park Authority are also trying to encourage local schools to include the National Park within their curriculum,
The report also showcases a variety of illustrated fact files, which include information on water, climate change and transport and travel.
The findings in the report will help The South Downs National Park Authority to build on further plans for the future, and to shape the strategic management plan, which will go to consultation next year.
The strategic management plan will shape the long-term plans for the National Park.
The full state of the South Downs report is available at http://snpr.southdowns.gov.uk/
The seven special qualities of the South Downs National Park as identified by the people are:
- Diverse, inspirational landscapes and breathtaking views
- Tranquil and unspoilt places
- A rich variety of wildlife and habitats including rare and internationally important species
- An environment shaped by centuries of farming and embracing new enterprise
- Great opportunities for recreational activities and learning experiences
- Well-conserved historical features and a rich cultural heritage
- Distinctive towns and villages, and communities, with real pride in their area