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Environment Minister champions weekend walking trips

Environment Minister Rory Stewart encourages everyone to visit their nearest National Park or public woodland this Bank Holiday weekend.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart is urging all would-be walkers and have-a-go-hikers to visit their nearest National Park or public woodland this Bank Holiday weekend and throughout the summer.

Treading a path for others to follow, the Minister will be visiting some of our most iconic green spaces over the three-day weekend, including the New Forest, South Downs, Heart of England Forest and the National Forest.

Encouraging others to get out and discover their local landscapes, Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

The UK’s National Parks, forests and woodlands are right at the heart of our national identity. These spaces belong to each and every one of us, and I’d challenge anyone visiting to enjoy them without feeling a pang of pride about that sense of ownership.

I’m delighted our outdoor spaces and National Parks are driving economic growth through international tourism, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t be enjoying them for ourselves as well - getting out and enjoying the great outdoors is a brilliant way to feel healthier and properly unwind over the long weekend.

In March, the government announced a new Plan for National Parks to further secure the future of our iconic protected landscapes, ensuring they are effectively managed and contribute to the growth of our strong rural economy.

With over half of the population in England living within an hour of a National Park, the plan aims to increase the diversity of visitors from the UK – as well as promoting these world-class cultural attractions to a global audience through the GREAT campaign to drive international tourism.

The government aims to grow annual visitor numbers to reach 100 million, giving local businesses a £440 million boost and adding to the £4 billion already generated by National Parks.

The budget for outdoor spaces was protected in the last Spending Review, committing over £350 million for English National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and forests.