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The Lake District national park has been listed as a world heritage site, becoming the UK’s first national park to be granted the status when inscribed as Unesco World Heritage Site: The English Lake District.

Landscape charity Friends of the Lake District, a member of Lake District National Park Partnership is delighted that the Lake District’s Bid for World Heritage Site Inscription has been successful, recognising the culmination of a great deal of effort by the Lake District Partnership over many years.  The charity is especially pleased that the bid has helped to increase attention on the cultural heritage of the area and how it has shaped our current landscape.

In awarding the status, Unesco’s committee praised the area’s beauty, farming and the inspiration it had provided to artists and writers including children’s author Beatrix Potter and poet William Wordsworth.

It also suggested that the impact of tourism be monitored and requested improvements be made in the conservation of the area, which is visited by around 18 million people a year.

Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive of Friends of the Lake District, said:

“Our cultural heritage has evolved over many generations and we want to see this continue with no harm to the landscape in the future. So, although we welcome this Inscription, we have some concerns that the resultant increase in publicity and awareness of the Lake District may lead to more unsustainable tourism – and not just an increase in international flights. Of more direct significance to Cumbria, we could see an increase in car journeys and a greater threat of inappropriate developments.

“We should take this opportunity to develop and adopt more sustainable tourism practices and transport solutions that reduce the risk of harm to our landscape while contributing to economic benefits. We would like to see the status used as a focus to grow the value of sustainable tourism by giving people more reasons to visit whilst ensuring the landscapes they come to enjoy are managed appropriately.

“This gives everyone involved in protecting and enhancing the Lake District National Park a fresh opportunity to ensure that the Park is managed in a sustainable way to guarantee the unique qualities of the Lake District are there for future generations to discover. Achieving World Heritage Site status provides a further level of accountability for us all.

“We can enjoy the moment, but winning World Heritage Status marks the beginning of a new adventure and the Partnership still has much to do in ensuring the threats and opportunities are balanced appropriately.”