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Westerdale by Chris CeaserWesterdale by Chris Ceaser

What does ‘landscape’ mean to you? 

Our landscape – the visible, audible, sensory features of the North York Moors – is what differentiates us from other regions. It’s a living record of the underlying geography and geology, and a reflection of our natural world, human history and heritage. It shapes our self-image and forms the backdrop to daily life.  

You may not even notice the landscape you know best, but there’s a general appreciation that landscape is important. From river and coast to woods and moors, they certainly have a popular appeal, which is why there are more than 165 million visits to UK National Parks a year. 

People visit National Parks for many reasons. They enjoy. . . 

  • the look, feel, sound and smell
  • the way wildlife is of the landscape, part of the scene – the soaring skylark, the vibrant colour of the grouse in the heather, the wild daffodil by the beck, the chirping of crickets in the hedge
  • the way the landscape holds on to our history so we can continually discover it – the ruined abbey in its peaceful location which its monks moulded to meet their needs, the lumps and bumps, trods and tramways, kilns and crosses, all now part of the landscape but all with a story to tell
  • the way they offer endless opportunities to escape from everyday lives – a toe in a stream, a seat by a view, open spaces, amazing views, dark skies, peace and quiet, pretty places…  

Landscape at Heart

In September 2013, the Association of National Park Authorities (ANPA) held its biennial conference in the North York Moors National Park. 

The conference was titled ‘Landscape at Heart’ and directly addressed the nature and value of landscape in today’s society.

Over 100 delegates from across the UK visited iconic places in the North York Moors and considered their significance to the landscape of the National Park.

Delegates also considered the following questions:

  • Landscape feeds the soul of our nation. Do we nourish it well enough?
  • Is high enough priority given to landscapes in policy?
  • Are we aware of their contribution to the national psyche?
  • How can we get more from our landscapes?
  • What does enhancing landscape mean in a modern world?
  • How can they be home to more wildlife?
  • How can they inspire writers, artists, religious communities, or visitors looking for spiritual refreshment?
  • What opportunities do landscapes present for people to be fit and active?
  • What personal connections do landscapes provide to place, memory and identity?

The conference concluded with the issuing of ‘The Landscape Declaration’, which will shape future thinking on National Parks and other landscapes in the United Kingdom.