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Why the North York Moors National Park needs your help

PUBLISHED: 19:22 15 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:26 24 October 2015

Guide Stone on Blakey Rigg North York Moors National Park

Guide Stone on Blakey Rigg North York Moors National Park

© Phil Cornelius / Alamy

The figures are disturbing. Almost half the funding to support the North York Moors National Park has been cut over the last four years.

Steam Engine in Newtondale from Levisham Moor, North York Moors National ParkSteam Engine in Newtondale from Levisham Moor, North York Moors National Park

‘As far as jobs are concerned we had 146 employees on fixed term contracts in 2011,’ said Michael Graham, assistant director of park services. ‘This fell to 120 in 2013 and by April 2015 it will fall to 109. We have said goodbye to six colleagues just this week (as Christmas approached) under redundancy arrangements. This is a reduction over the four years of 25 per cent in staff and 40 per cent budget in real terms over the same period.’ The cuts affect all services across the park including conservation. ‘But I am damned if we are going to wait to go under and watch services being eroded by these cuts,’ said Michael. Work is going on to find other ways of increasing national park funding through donations, new commercial partnerships and sponsorship as well as working together as part of
the ‘family of national parks’ to earn income on a wider scale. ‘We are looking
to increase our income from a range of sources including launching a charitable trust, donations and commercial activities such as car parking, retail, gallery commission, events, sponsorship, planning fees and potentially new enterprises,’ added Michael.

A newly launched appeal for donations through the North York Moors National Park website has already brought its first major response from the long-established York Brewery. Last year the brewery used heather from the national park’s Levisham Estate to help create a limited edition brew called Moor-ish Ale, which sold out in just a few days. The brewery is now donating 2p of every pint sold to the national park to pay for the planting of oak trees on the Levisham Estate.

Neil Arden, brand manager at York Brewery, said they hoped they would be the first of many to donate to the national park. ‘The national park does such fantastic work managing and preserving our beautiful Yorkshire landscape, and the projects that you can contribute to through the new scheme are important parts of that work.

‘Working with them earlier in the year to produce our heather beer was an absolute joy and we were really happy with the result. The fact that it sold out so quickly is a testament to the regard that the people of Yorkshire have for the North York Moors, and it’s really good to think that we’re now putting something back for future generations to enjoy.’

View from the cliffs at Ravenscar towards Robin Hood's Bay in the North York Moors National Park.View from the cliffs at Ravenscar towards Robin Hood's Bay in the North York Moors National Park.

Trees for the Levisham Estate are grown from acorns harvested from some of the best old and venerable trees in the North York Moors. The national park is keen to quickly re-establish native broadleaved trees and shrubs to shelter any remnant or neighbouring woodland flora and fauna. Tree cover is likely to gradually take over again as plants seed in from the surrounding semi-natural woodlands, but the national park would like to provide a helping hand by additional planting of young oak trees.

‘People have often expressed an interest in contributing to our work to look after the North York Moors, perhaps in remembrance of a loved one or because the area holds happy memories for them,’ added Michael. ‘We hope our new donations page on our website will make it easier to support important conservation work and look after the national park’s treasured landscape, wildlife and heritage. Our thanks go to York Brewery for their donation to help restore an important ancient woodland site.’

Volunteers are also a vital asset and the North York Moors National Park relies heavily on those who give their time and expertise to ensure much of the practical work to protect the landscape is completed as well as meeting and greeting visitors. But the pool of volunteers may not be so great in the future as more people continue to work on rather than take retirement. ‘It’s usually the people who retire early or who have just retired that have the time to take their interest further by volunteering,’ says Chris Pye, assistant at the national park’s Sutton Park Visitor Centre. ‘But many people will need to work longer and so we may face a shortage of volunteers in the future.’ It’s a point well made but volunteers come from all walks of life and include students and young people who want to widen their experience before they begin work and there may be greater emphasis on welcoming corporate volunteering groups from local businesses. n

For more information on volunteering or to give a donation, go to the North York Moors website

Heather on Levisham Moor Fylingdales North Yorkshire North York Moors National Park England UKHeather on Levisham Moor Fylingdales North Yorkshire North York Moors National Park England UK

Donations make a difference

What your money can buy

Planting an oak tree on the Levisham Estate grown from local acorns £15

Footpath signs on the Esk Valley Walk £75 each

Replacing stiles with gates to open up the path network to more users £250 each

Three new hardwood benches at visitor centres £500–£1,000 each

New and replacement bridges and river crossings from £1,000

Children’s play equipment at Sutton Bank National Park Visitor Centre £8,000

A new interactive riverside trail at The Moors National Park Centre, Danby £10,000

Did you know?

Around 70 percent of the world’s heather moorland is in the UK and the largest continuous expanse of moorland in England and Wales is in the North York Moors.

North York Moors is one of the most wooded of England’s national parks. Woodland and forest cover at least 22 percent of the national park – that’s over 300 square kilometres of trees. Ancient woodlands (those in existence for more than 400 years) make up five per cent of the national park – one of the biggest concentrations of ancient and veteran trees in the North.

It’s the oldest national park in North Yorkshire covering 554 square miles (1,436 sq km) including 26 miles (41.8 km) of coastline which has highest point on the east coast of England at Boulby, near Staithes. Here the cliffs are 200 metres (656 ft) high.

Discover what staff and volunteers are doing by reading the North York Moors National Park official blog. You will be surprised just how varied the work is from surveying badgers to protecting monuments.

About 7million visitors arrive at the North York Moors National Park every year and just over 23,000 people live there


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