Sustainability is about living within the Earth’s carrying capacity and ensuring that the needs of people alive today are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The purposes for which National Parks are designated – conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, and promoting understanding and enjoyment – lie at the very heart of sustainability.
The major challenges we all face that have arisen as a consequence of unsustainable practices are only too evident; for example, global climate change, collapsing marine fisheries, species extinctions, increasing demand for diminishing natural resources, “food v fuel”, are all pressing current issues which impact globally and locally.
Many of these issues require immediate action and the Partnership Plan for Exmoor 2012 - 2017 sets out a number of targets which will help to drive activity in this regard. In particular, there is a commitment for the National Park to becoming “carbon neutral” by 2025 to help tackle climate change.
Local action to promote sustainable development has been supported by the Exmoor National Park Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) which ran from 2002 - 2011. This provided funding to projects that contributed towards the National Park’s purposes and towards sustainability. Since it began in 2002, more than 100 projects have been awarded nearly £1.9m from the Exmoor SDF. A new Partnership Fund for Exmoor now exists which can support projects that contribute towards sustainable development and towards the National Park purposes.