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Report gives a snapshot of Dales life

[Thursday 02 March 2006]

More people than ever are living in the Yorkshire Dales and there are more young people living in the National Park - just one of the findings published in a new report from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The 'State of the Park' report provides a snapshot of life in the National Park and contains a wealth of information about the environmental, social and economic well-being of the Park and its communities.

Covering the period between 2000 and 2005, other key findings of the report are that the condition of public footpaths and listed buildings in the Yorkshire Dales is improving.

It also reveals a huge increase in the area of land in the Park that is being managed and funded through agri-environment and conservation agreements - an important source of income for many farmers in the post subsidy period.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the report points out that housing in the National Park is becoming less affordable as the gap between prices and incomes grows. Last year the Park Authority took the controversial step of restricting new housing to those that live and work within the Park.

In terms of the economic well-being of its communities, the report shows that unemployment levels within the Park are exceptionally low but that income levels remain below the national average.

The report draws on data from a number of sources and following on from English Nature's recent report on the state of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's), it shows that the number of important nature conservation sites within the Yorkshire Dales that are in 'favourable' condition has increased substantially.

Carl Lis, Chairman of the YDNPA, said: "Making good decisions about the future of the National Park depends on having good information. That means gathering clear, objective evidence rather than relying on anecdote and opinion.

"The State of the Park report shows us how much progress has been made in implementing the Management Plan and provides information about what challenges still need to be tackled."

The Yorkshire Dales Management Plan published in 2000 identified key issues for the future of the Park and followed a wide consultation - it sets out a vision that park authorities like to believe is shared by those who live and work in it.

Carl added: "As the State of the Park Report shows, much has changed since 2000.

"Few will forget the devastating impact of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 which highlighted so strongly the inter-dependence between agriculture, the wider rural economy and the attraction of the Park to visitors.

"So, while the long-term aspirations set out in the Management Plan still hold true, it is important that it adapts to changing circumstances.

"It should focus on the delivery of 'National Park purposes' - conserving the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park, and promoting understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities.

"However, achieving these would be impossible without thriving local communities and a strong economy. While social and economic issues are covered in other plans - notably those prepared by the District and County Councils - the Management Plan will take account of these and include some issues that are specific to the National Park. "

A full copy of the State of the Park Report 2006 is available on the Authority's website www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

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