Conservation Series

Sir Chris Bonington Calls for Idealism - and Cash - for Parks

With the end of the ambitious Mend Our Mountains crowdfunding drive fast approaching, Sir Chris Bonington has described National Parks as an "essential part of who we are" and called for us all to take responsibility for looking after them.

The veteran mountaineer encouraged everyone to pledge to Mend Our Mountains on Crowdfunder before the drive ends on Sunday.

Part of the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal, the Mend Our Mountains crowdfunding push is an effort to raise £150,000 from the general public. With a current shortfall of around £60,000 the campaign closes on October 21.

National Parks face an uncertain future, Sir Chris said, with an ongoing squeeze in government funding. But whether or not policy makers recognise the value of these national resources, we can all help too, he suggested.

"As I look back at a long and eventful lifetime of climbing which has taken me all over the world, the importance and uniqueness of Britain's national parks and other protected landscapes is more apparent to me than ever" said Sir Chris.

"Places like the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Yorkshire Dales give our mostly urban population the opportunity for challenge, open skies, adventure, excitement, wonder, even a little healthy risk.

"I would go further and say that these places are an essential part of who we are. National Parks are places where we can test ourselves, enjoy life and explore the ecology and culture of these islands. We should take great pride in them.

"Yet I am concerned for the future. These places need to be properly funded and properly managed, yet the tightening of public purse strings in recent times threatens to undermine that. Visitor rates are climbing but infrastructure is straining under the pressure. Money is not the answer to everything, but those in power should take a long-term view which recognises the many well-documented public benefits of outdoor recreation for happiness, wellbeing and mental and physical health.

"But we all need to play our part. For example, every one of us is capable of making problems like overcrowding, congestion, litter or erosion worse. When we set foot in a National Park we should all be thinking about the impact we have. Can I use public transport? Can I walk a lesser-known route to spread erosion damage? How can I leave this place in at least as good a condition as I found it?

"Contributing to path repair campaigns such as Mend Our Mountains is another great way of giving something back. Places like Scafell Pike, Beinn a' Ghlo or Cadair Idris offer a lifetime of free enjoyment; is chipping in what you can afford to help take care of them too much to ask?

"We need an injection of idealism, passion and effort if we are to truly preserve our National Parks and other protected places for future generations. They will only survive as long as we all care about them, value them, and are willing to help look after them. Let's make our voices heard loud and clear. I would encourage everyone to start by giving to Mend Our Mountains today."

The overall Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal seeks to raise £1 million overall for vital path repair and conservation projects from Scotland to Sussex using a range of fundraising methods. Around £430,000 has been raised so far. It also aims to raise awareness of the pressures special landscapes are under and help foster solutions to address them.

Anyone who wants to contribute to crowdfunding can either donate freely or claim fantastic rewards ranging from T-shirts and mugs to exclusive one-off experiences such as days out with famous climbers, helicopter rides, and souvenirs specific to each National Park such as personally engraved footpath signs.

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