Sustainable tourism: David Bellamy announces his 2011 Conservation Awards
Hello to everyone who visits Pitchup.com and many thanks to Dan and his team for letting me blog on the site. If you’re a regular at Pitchup.com, you’ll know that it has a section on parks that have received an environmental award under a scheme I help run. I am blogging to let you know that this year’s 629 award-winners have just been announced - an increase of nine from last year - and to highlight why it makes sense to visit parks that have won the award.
The scheme started off over 13 years ago when I realised that the best parks out there were doing really great things for the environment. It’s not hard to see why – a lot of parks have loads of green space and, if this is managed properly, it can be a real oasis for wildlife. However, what made me go ‘wow’ at the time was the fact that this was actually happening all over the place – parks were not just thinking about the bottom line, but were investing in their most important resource: biodiversity. They were planting trees, re-instating hedges, creating wildlife meadows, indeed a-hundred-and-one other things to put the wild flowers and other wildlife back where they used be when I first went camping. All I had to do was pat them on the back and so the Bellamy Awards were born!
You can read more about how the awards work by visiting the information page on this site or by going to the award scheme’s own site. Once you’ve taken a look at what we do, why not think about using the scheme to plan your next holiday? I always find that there is nothing better in the dead of winter than planning a break for when the weather improves, and you can use Pitchup.com's search engine to look at the gold, silver and bronze parks in the scheme. Visit one and you can be guaranteed a great green holiday on a park that is committed to really improving its environmental performance and to being a good green neighbour.
Let me just whet your appetite by pointing out just a few of the highlight projects that the scheme shone a spotlight on this year. Take Ross Park in Devon. Here the park staff have got dug in and created a wonderful walled organic vegetable garden from what was a weedy wilderness area that had limited wildlife value. Or how about Highfields Country Holiday Fishing Retreat in Lincolnshire? This park has turned about 60 acres of poor-quality arable into a wildlife rich grassland area. Its staff have also thinned out a viewing area in its large patch of woodland, put up brash piles to provide cover for animals and installed hanging-log bird feeders and salt blocks for deer – perfect for anyone who wants to go wildlife watching on their hols.
Parks aren’t just busy boosting biodiversity, they are also busy saving energy, water and other resources. Some are even hard at work spreading the green message. Take the Earth Day event which has been run for the past three years at Deepdale Backpackers & Camping in north Norfolk. It takes place in April and in 2010, the park had about 150 stalls run by a whole range of green groups and businesses. Over 10,000 people came to visit. Deepdale hopes to repeat this success in 2011.
One of the complaints that is often levelled at the caravan industry by environmentalists is that it encourages people to drive their cars. One park that has taken an innovative step to offset such criticism is Clippesby Hall in East Anglia. Here, staff encourage guests to pledge to spend car-free days while staying at the park. Those that do pledge get a native tree planted in their name, or, if they pledge to go ‘car-free’ for more than one day, they get a bird box put up on the site.
As you can see, parks are up to a lot of really fantastic green work. Why not search them out on Pitchup.com and get a bit of ‘wow’ yourself on your next holiday?
I love the idea of the Bellamy Awards and that these parks, which are doing such great environmental work are being recognised in their efforts. Such careful work will see a hugely beneficial net increase in bio-diversity.