The Lake District is both a National Park and World Heritage Site.
The Lake District is a National Park, protected because of its beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. It offers fantastic opportunities for recreation, and attracts millions of visitors each year to enjoy this unique example of a living working landscape. A requirement of being a National Park is to identify its ‘Special Qualities’, which combine to produce a landscape of remarkable beauty and distinctive character that is cherished and enjoyed by the nation. The ownership, purposes and duties and the ‘Sandford Principle’ can be found on the History of National Parks page.
World Heritage Sites are considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value to everyone – a place or building which is considered to have special importance for everyone, including future generations. They represent the most significant or exceptional examples of the world’s cultural and/or natural heritage.
The Lake District was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2017 as a cultural landscape. UNESCO’s World Heritage Site details our Statement of Outstanding Universal Value which we should use to help us understand and make decisions about the Lake District. Since inscription we have agreed the attributes and components of Outstanding Universal Value. Whilst every attribute of Outstanding Universal Value can sit within the Special Qualities not all Special Qualities elements are an attribute of Outstanding Universal Value. Further information about the English Lake District World Heritage Site is contained within the English Lake District World Heritage Site Nomination Dossier.
The Lake District provides many crucial services for our local communities, businesses and visitors, and includes the provision of food and water, carbon storage, clean air, flood regulation, aesthetic value, inspiration, heritage and opportunities for recreation. The natural world, its biodiversity and its ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic prosperity; they underpin our very existence. This Plan sets out to ensure that the public benefits the natural and historic (and/or cultural) environment of the Lake District provides continue to deliver for future generations. As the UK population continues to grow, the pressure on these precious resources will increase, accentuated by the impacts of climate change.
The Lake District is important to different people in different ways
The summary of the Lake District in numbers [LD in numbers graphic opens in new window – graphic to be updated] demonstrates the wealth of history and heritage, amount of land, water and habitat, communities who live in the Lake District, and the importance of tourism and recreation.
It comes as no surprise that the Lake District is the most popular UK National Park - a recent article identified the Lake District as being amongst the most Instagrammed National Parks in the world with over 2.5 million mentions for #lakedistrict.
With five out of the top 10 favourite routes in Britain’s 100 Favourite Walks found in the Lake District, the coast to coast cycle route passing through and many events and challenges it’s no surprise the Lake District is a focal point for outdoor adventure.
It’s not all outdoor adventure, with the Lake District featuring in many of the best UK literary location lists complementing the arts and cultural offer.