The Countryside Code celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, yet despite reaching this grand age, it has never been more relevant than it is today. By giving clear guidance, the Countryside Code gives everyone confidence to enjoy nature safely and to do the right thing when they visit the outdoors, whether that’s the local park, a rural location further afield or a trip to the coast.
The pandemic taught us all how much people need green and blue spaces; the physical and mental benefits of time in nature are well-documented. There is also some evidence that the more people develop a connection to nature, the more they value and care for it; something that has the potential to have significant impact in the fight against climate change.
Therefore, it is to be celebrated that so many more of us are enjoying time in nature, even as we acknowledge this rise in visitor numbers can bring challenges to some outdoor spaces. The pandemic is a unique and essential moment in which to amend the Code. We consulted far and wide with stakeholders, including issuing a survey which resulted in nearly 4,000 respondents, as well as in-depth consultations with representatives from access, recreation and land user organisations.
Using that insight and feedback, the Countryside Code was refreshed and is now available for everyone to use. The campaign to share this refreshed Code commences on 1st April and will continue in the long-term as we seek to engage as many people as possible. You will see articles in newspapers, interviews on the tv and mentions in social media over this coming year as we continue to support people to feel confident and welcome to safely, responsibly access nature across England and Wales.
However, what would be a great success is for messages from the Code become part of stories that are told repeatedly, by many people, across many platforms and with as broad a range of audiences as possible. Messages can be more impactful when they come from people that communities already know and trust; sports clubs, faith communities, after-school groups, youth organisations and many more. Our partners sharing these messages so they become well-known and commonplace to everyone, will create a bigger impact than we can achieve alone.
With that in mind, please can we call on you to share with your networks and encourage them to do the same. The messages in the Code are the starting point for you to use and adapt so they resonate with everyone. We’ll be adding more content to our Partner Toolkit through the campaign, so do come back and check it regularly.
You can also ask to be added to our mailing list for updates; contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to be added or with any questions you may have.
We are very grateful for your help to support people to ‘Respect, Protect and Enjoy’ when spending their time outdoors.
Chief Executive, Natural England
The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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