LAST week I met the Chief Executive of Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) to discuss recommendations contained in a key report relating to the future governance and management of the park.

We also discussed funding and a strategy for further upgrading broadband and mobile connectivity on the Moor.

I am a keen walker and when time permits, I love exploring the tors, rivers and rugged moorland of Dartmoor.

The moor is a truly unique environment, and it is a great privilege to have one of the 15 UK National Parks in our Central Devon constituency. 

Dartmoor is many things to many different people.

From the farmland that produces food and supports farmers and local families, to the visitors who seek to explore its history, natural environment or have an outdoor adventure. And it is of course also an area of rich biodiversity and home to a vast array of birds, animals, flora and fauna.

The government is committed to supporting farmers and those living and working on the moor to join together with tourism and environmental groups to safeguard the future of the moors, in particular the areas with greatest environmental value.

That’s why last year, in response to concerns over proposed changes to winter grazing on Dartmoor, the government commissioned an independent review to look into the land management of the moor.

David Fursdon, together with a small panel of experts, worked with local farmers and stakeholders to provide an independent perspective on the management of the protected sites on the moor.

Its recommendations followed more than 150 written submissions and over 200 conversations across three-and-a-half months with commoners and organisations including Dartmoor National Park Authority and Natural England.

The review was published in Autumn last year, and made a series of recommendations for the government, Natural England, Dartmoor National Park Authority and commoners on key areas like vision and governance, operations, communication, agri-environment agreements, and grazing and vegetations management.

Key points included the creation of an independently chaired Dartmoor Land-Use Management Group, actions to support vegetation management, an overarching agri-environment scheme and improved transparency of protected site monitoring and management of these sites in line with proposals in Defra’s Nature Recovery Green Paper. It also recommended increasing Natural England staffing resource and creating partnerships to help rebuild trust and confidence on Dartmoor.

Digital Dartmoor is another project that has my full support, to enable people that live and work on the moor to benefit from super fast broadband and stable mobile connectivity.

To progress these issues I am arranging a meeting between Dartmoor National Park Authority, myself and the Secretary of State for Defra, in the coming weeks. 

It is imperative that government, conservation organisations, farmers and communities all come together and work collaboratively on the stewardship of our national parks. 

Only through such concerted efforts can we ensure that these magnificent landscapes continue to thrive. David Fursdon’s report is a very powerful step in the right direction.