The Lake District is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The English Lake District was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site, joining the likes of the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon as an area of “outstanding universal value”.
Appearing under the category of Cultural Landscape, the title means the area is recognised for “the combined works of man and nature” and for being “illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal”.
In short, the combination of traditional farming, local industry and stunning scenery gives the Lake District a unique character that is now considered of outstanding universal value. The area was further praised for the inspiration it has provided for artists and writers, such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.
The decision has been supported by conservation and sustainability organisations throughout the country, including the Cumbria Wildlife Trust and and the National Trust. Steve Ratcliffe, director of sustainability said: “The Lake District now becomes an international and global property and we look forward to working with you and our communities to make sure this site inspires future generations around the world.” However, the UNESCO Committee said the National Park should monitor the impact of tourism and requested improvements in conservation.
While researching this news, Ramble became aware of a strong counter-argument by Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, who argued that excessive sheep-farming and overgrazing is damaging the natural balances of the area, stating that “75% of wildlife sites are in unfavourable condition”. Monbiot goes on to argue that the new title will turn the National Park into a “Beatrix Potter-themed sheep museum” and that it will be used to “block efforts to reduce grazing pressure, protect the soil and bring back trees.”
As patrons for sustainability and conservation of the UK’s natural spaces, we admit that this is not something we were aware of or had considered when hearing of the Lake District’s new UNESCO title. If anyone has further information or opinions on the topic, we’d love to hear your views. In the meantime, we’ll continue to research whether the new title will result in a positive or negative impact on the Lake District National Park.