State of the National Park Report 2021

The State of the National Park Report 2021 provides a snapshot of the overall health of Northumberland National Park and provides an update of the progress in delivering the aims and objectives of the Northumberland National Park Management Plan 2016-2021.

The Management Plan was developed in close consultation with the communities, businesses and organisations that have an interest in the National Park; these make up the Management Plan Partnership. The Plan represents a shared vision for the place, and this is therefore a report on the special qualities of the park, how these qualities are enjoyed, and by whom, and on the economic and social wellbeing of the park communities.

The report is structured in line with the five Aims of the National Park Management Plan:

Each section provides a comprehensive update on the achievements of the Management Plan Partnership in delivering each of the 16 primary outcomes.

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has meant that the decision has been made to extend the State of the Park monitoring until we are able to approve the next iteration of the Management Plan, this is scheduled to be in 2022.

Whilst this year’s State of the National Park report reflects outcomes affected by the impact of Covid-19, it should be noted that significant positive impact has been made in several key areas. Targets and aims are distributed evenly with 8 (50%) of its outcomes achieving a ‘good’ performance while 8 outcomes are ‘acceptable’. There has been a drop of 25% in the number of outcomes rated ‘Good’ and there are currently 7 with a trend which is currently unknown.

This uncertainty is caused by the sudden and significant impact of the pandemic in March 2020. Currently this drop in performance is assumed to be temporary rather than a trend indicator. Many of the ‘Acceptable’ areas within the report should also be read with assumption that negative impacts on the local economy, engagement and project work will be short lived and are not representative of the long-term change in the National Park, in fact we are already seeing a positive recovery in many of these areas

I trust you will find this report of interest and I would welcome your feedback on any aspects of the report.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive (National Park Officer)
December 2021


Northumberland National Park Authority Key Performance Indicators

Further information relating to our Key Performance Indicators can be found below.

IndicatorBaselineTarget (2021)Status 2019 / 2020Status 2020 / 2021
Increase visitor numbers to Northumberland National Park.1.47 million (2015) 1.62 m (10% increase) 1.73m (18% increase) 0.97 m (34% decrease)
Increase the economic contribution of National Park visitors to the local economy.£141 million (2015) [1]£155 million (10% increase) £176 million (25% increase) £71 m (49% decrease)
Develop and implement the Sill Activity Plan.Not Applicable30,000 days per annum 28,369 (95% of target) 10,922 days (36% of Target)
The National Park will remain the most tranquil part of England.Most tranquil (CPRE 2016) Most tranquilStudy requiredStudy required
Maintain the area of blanket bog and extend the area of heathland.20,800 ha (2016) 160 ha2 new heath 20,816 ha Total Heath 20,816 ha Total Heath
Maintain or increase the number and distribution of curlew. 450 pairs / 211 areas (2016) Maintain or increaseNo further informationNo further information
Farmland managed under ‘enhanced’ agri-environment schemes.85% (2016) [3]70%94%89% [4]
Reduce the number of scheduled monuments that are “at risk”.53 (12%) (2016) 21 (5%)48 (11%)39 (9%)
Total self-generated income by Northumberland National Park Authority.£242,000£922,000£1,194,500£1,000,600

Key Performance Indicators Further Information

[1] 84% of visitors to the National Parks ‘influence zone’ visit the National Park but spend outside the boundary.  This figure is 84% of the value of the visitor economy of the wider influence zone.

[2] NEV target of 1000 ha additional heathland area between 2010 and 2035 (25 yr period).  160 ha is 4 years’ worth.

[3] In 2016, 100% of the farmed area of the National Park was covered by an agri-environment scheme.  85% of the farmed area was covered by agreements with ‘higher level’ options.  Changes to agri-environment schemes mean only (and not all) areas with higher level options will qualify in the future.  The 70% target is based on the 2016 benchmark for other English National Parks.

[4] There are no longer any holdings in Entry Level Stewardship in Northumberland National Park. The definition of farmland now applies to all holdings under the Rural Land Registry, as Countryside Stewardship Schemes also include woodland and scrub areas.