NATIONAL parks will be looking at playing a greater role in the rural economy in their annual conference today(wed).

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is hosting the gathering of park authorities across the country, given the theme of the 'enterprising environment.'

And the conference will include keynote speeches from environment minister Chris Mullin and campaigner David Bellamy.

The theme of the gathering aims to examine how far national parks can push the limits of their economic and social duty to park communities while still pursuing their conservation duties.

Professor Ian Mercer, secretary general of the Association of National Park Authorities, said: "We will be looking at the role national park authorities can play in being agents for change in remote rural environments and communities and how we can help deliver thriving and vibrant areas for visitors and residents alike."

About 300 delegates from the 11 national parks are expected for the conference, which will take place in Skipton.



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