My name is David Renwick and I’m the new Director of Conservation at the North York Moors National Park Authority. Although I’m not sure that I can still say ‘new’ as I’ve been here for nearly six months now!
The time has flown by, but equally I also feel like I’ve been here for much longer! I mainly put this down to how enjoyable and interesting the work is and also the warm welcome I have been given by everybody, both within the Authority and from those people we work with to deliver the Park’s priorities. The National Park Authority and its Conservation Department, has a very dedicated workforce that are clearly committed to the area and its amazing landscape and to the people who live, work and visit the North York Moors. The relationships we have with our communities and landowners are very positive and I look forward to getting to know more people in the coming months and years. I have to say that the enthusiasm, passion and commitment that the Park’s people demonstrate is contagious and I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far.
However, whilst the work is enjoyable I must also say that it is challenging. The priorities we have to deliver from the North York Moors National Park Management Plan over the coming years are difficult enough to achieve, but the financial climate in which we are working makes it even harder to secure success. Regardless of financial resources the work itself is always going to be challenging. The North York Moors National Park is blessed with a wonderful landscape that is full of wildlife, archaeology and cultural heritage. This wealth of resources means that there is a lot to do to look after what we’ve got, and conserve and enhance it within a network of habitats and within a tapestry of historic understanding.
Public funds are under increased scrutiny, budgets are reduced and we must make every pound go as far as we possibly can. Based on what we currently understand the National Park Authority faces a 35% cut to its funding in real terms between 2010 and 2015 and it is likely that this challenging budget situation will continue for the foreseeable future. This makes it important for us to use different, new and innovative ways of doing things. We must challenge ourselves every day and question the way we approach things. Our communities and stakeholders can help us do this and their ideas and input are particularly welcome.
We must maintain a dialogue with those we work with. Crucially this includes the landowners, farmers and land managers within the National Park who do much of the work on the ground to look after what we have here. Our role is to listen and to help as best we can to maintain and enhance the National Park’s special qualities. At the same time we need to remember that the people of the North York Moors have to ‘earn a crust’ and that the National Park is their living landscape, but hopefully we can find common ground to work from.
One way in which we are already doing this is through the North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme which is delivering numerous community, environmental and economic development projects from the bottom up. I am very excited by the prospect of us being able to develop a new Programme for the future and work with an even wider range of interests including importantly the local business community.
Personally I am very excited by the challenges and opportunities that face us in delivering the Park’s new Management Plan priorities. I am an ecologist by training so our work on habitat connectivity is particularly interesting, as is the work we have to do to restore the North York Moors’ ancient woodlands that have been under plantation forestry (PAWS). The National Park also has a wonderful coastline that attracts many visitors and marvellous seascapes and marine habitats.
Despite my ecological background the archaeological and cultural heritage work we do is also proving very interesting. The Monument Management Scheme and industrial heritage work we are trying to deliver are both fascinating projects that I look forward to learning more about. I have a particular interest in the early human history of Stone Age Britain and how the people then related their lives to the landscapes they lived within and shaped.
Having moved to Helmsley with my wife and baby son I am also very keen to explore the North York Moors in my spare time once we’re a little more mobile and not so tied to pram friendly routes. The National Park is certainly going to be a nice place to start family life and my child gives me a new perspective on the need to look after our important national landscapes now and for the future.
The future is certainly challenging for the National Park Authority and me, but there are opportunities at the same time and we need to be prepared to act on these positively. Whatever happens we will do what we do with a smile on our faces and with a commitment to the North York Moors that few can rival. As they say onwards and upwards!