Jim Dixon steps down from his job as chief executive of the Peak District National Park at the end of the year to take on new roles. In a series of articles, he reflects on the big themes that have dominated his 11 years:
Everyone understands instinctively that it is our duty to look after the heritage we inherit.
Author Wendell Berry captures how I feel about this part of my job, “...the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility.”
I have had the great privilege of working with national park staff, partners, communities and land managers who share this responsibility. And what a responsibility!
Peak District moorlands are the most important, but threatened in the UK. Ash woodlands, grasslands and rivers are second-to-none in their quality.
Our views, walks, trails and open land are special places for people to experience nature and a whopping 98 per cent of our visitors think we do a great job. In this national park, it’s not just nature, but the influence of people in the landscape that we look after.
Patrons, architects and builders of the past bequeath to our generation the great houses, estates, villages, buildings and industrial heritage we value today.
The Peak District National Park has an enviable reputation for conservation.
I was delighted we received from English Heritage their first ever ‘lifetime achievement’ award for a local authority.
In our performance asessment in 2010 we scored ‘excellent’ for conservation, reflecting the outstanding work we do in Moors for the Future, restoring moors damaged by historic air pollution and fires.
Much still needs to be done, especially continuing our work with farmers and land-managers, learning more about what we have and exciting in the next generation of stewards a love of the land and a desire to look after it.