A CAMPAIGN organisation has called for urgent action to reverse "dire ecological decline" in our national parks.

The Campaign for National Parks has said just 30 per cent of the 57,000 hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Yorkshire Dales have been classed as in a “favourable” condition by Natural England. In the North York Moors National Park the figure was just over 12 per cent.

On a sunny, summer day in the Yorkshire Dales it’s surprising to learn that such a beautiful natural landscape is suffering such serious ecological problems.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said at a meeting this week that “massive investment” and work has gone into nature conservation over the last five years, but it will take many more years to meet Natural England’s favourable standard.

Ironically, members observed how their success in attracting more visitors – gaining an extra 23 per cent between 2014 and 2016 – was one of the factors hampering their conservation efforts.

The national park has a wildly diverse array of habitats to maintain and - like everyone these days - has to do so on a much-reduced budget.

The park has a challenging tightrope to walk; whether it’s balancing communities between working people and second home owners, meeting its obligations to be accessible to all, or preserving its stunning array of wildlife and habitats against the needs of business and agriculture.

But preserving our natural world is not an issue that can be put off until tomorrow.

So much of it is in truly alarming decline – threatened with disappearing all together from this country within our own lifetimes.

Species from hedgehogs to skylarks and birds of prey are being wiped out. Birds including grey partridges, corn buntings and tree sparrows have dropped by at least 90 per cent in the last 40 years.

Our wildlife is in trouble. Preserving it is everyone's problem.