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Interactive panel tackles big landscape questions

World-famous mountaineer and adventurer Simon Yates

World-famous mountaineer and adventurer Simon Yates is leading an online interactive panel to explore big questions about some of the country’s best and most loved landscapes.

A team of experts will be at the ready to answer crucial queries about our national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty in an evening designed to get to the heart of a raft of issues.

Join us on 12 October and have a say, urges University of Cumbria’s influential uplands and common ground specialist, Professor of Practice Julia Aglionby, explaining it is a perfect opportunity for the public to be heard.

She said: “We know these precious places generate strong feelings and want people to have a voice. After all, these landscapes are for everyone.

“National parks were set up in the immediate aftermath of WW2, following years of sacrifice. We now find ourselves in a time of growing inequality and a very different crisis.

“It’s critical we gather and share information and to promote the benefits of access to much wider audiences. Mindful of the challenges in achieving this, our key experts want to help test opinion and provide some answers.”

Dr Aglionby said over the last two decades the iconic areas had seen increased numbers of visitors, with the Lake District alone attracting nearly 20 million people a year.

She added: “However, we also know through Natural England data that lower socio-economic and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are under-represented in these numbers.

“We want to address the barriers so that people can enjoy these landscapes in a way that speaks to them. The timing for looking at how all communities can explore them responsibly is particularly pertinent.

“Post Covid lockdown, there has been great pressure on the Lake District and other protected areas. We’ve seen the headlines and evidence of irresponsible wild camping, parking and littering.

“But how do we manage this so that visitors have a greater understanding and behave responsibly? Increased communication is certainly an important tool and I’m sure our interactive evening will be invaluable.”

Panellists include Harriet Fraser, an artist specialising in cultural spaces, David Renwick, head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund (North), Douglas Chalmers, CEO of Friends of the Lake District and Mohammed Dhalech, a Winston Churchill Fellow specialising in equality and diversity in rural areas.

Organised by the university’s Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, based at its Ambleside Campus, this is a free event on Monday, 12 October, at 7pm. People must register here to take part.

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