A top-level delegation from The People’s Republic of China’s north east province of Sichuan has just visited Northumberland National Park to discover how an important landscape and geological area and a World Heritage Site are protected and managed for tourism in England.
The Mayor of Dazhou City, together with a group of senior local government officials from Dazhou and Wanyuan Cities and Xuanhan County, met National Park Authority Chairman, John Riddle, and Chief Executive, Tony Gates, and representatives of the Vindolanda Trust and Northumberland County Council, to discover the importance of the landscape and it’s contribution to tourism in the region.
In spite of its sub-tropical climate, the Dazhou, Wanyuan and Xuanhan area of Sichuan has some parallels with Northumberland and Newcastle-Gateshead. Dazhou City is a thriving metropolitan centre of over 6.4 million people on the River Zhouhe, and is an important river and rail transport hub for the province.
The area is renowned for its beauty and tranquility and has several national and provincial cultural sites, protected forests and nature reserves.
The Major of Dazhou, Mr He Jian, has been granted consent to designate a new national park based on the geological heritage of the areas and was keen to find out how such spaces are managed in the UK. Northumberland is the only national park the delegation is visiting and other heritage related stops on their visit include Edinburgh and York.
John Riddle said: “It is an honour to welcome our counterparts from Sichuan to Northumberland National Park and Hadrian’s Wall, and we found the exchange of views very valuable. The UK Association of National Parks has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Association of National Parks and Scenic Areas and in this context we are delighted to host this visit.”
The delegation visited the NNP headquarters where they gained an insight into national park management before visiting the Vindolanda Trust where they looked at the rich Roman archaeology on the site and elsewhere along Hadrian’s Wall.
The delegation ended their visit at Steel Rigg where they explored the geology of the area and land management initiatives in the national park.
Tony Gates added: “Mayor He Jian and his team were very interested in how the national park in the UK works, particularly aspects such as funding, governance and planning. He was also taken with the role of the charitable sector which he experienced at first hand at Vindolanda and was impressed with the overall quality and professionalism he witnessed.”