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Sustainable tourism and the David Bellamy Conservation Awards

David BellamyIn 2011, some 629 holiday parks and campsites received a David Bellamy Conservation Award for the work they’ve done to the protect and enhance Britain’s natural environment.

The variety of work being done by these parks is phenomenal – from the creation of new wildlife meadows and woodlands to the construction of solar-powered shower blocks and energy-efficient lodges made out of recycled plastic, parks are active across the country.

Pitchup.com allows you to search for parks with gold, silver and bronze David Bellamy Awards. All of these campsites have proved that they are committed to improving their environmental performance. Amongst the award winners you’ll find a wide range of parks: from peaceful, hideaway places, where you’ll be able to enjoy a real ‘back-to-nature’ holiday experience, to larger ‘leisure parks’, where you and your family will be able to enjoy more facilities, along with the knowledge that the park you’re visiting is committed to environmental excellence.

Whichever one you choose you can pat yourself on the back, because you can be sure that you’ve made a greener choice – and that you’ll have a holiday full of natural enjoyment.

Here are a few of our favourite David Bellamy Award parks:

1. Kelling Heath

Kelling Heath in north Norfolk boasts 250 acres of woodland and rare open heathland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Among the wide range of environmental attractions on the park are a red-squirrel breeding programme, an orchard full of rare ‘old-fashioned’ varieties of apples and a wildflower meadow that showcases the beauty of Britain’s native flora. The park is also really innovative when it comes to energy generation. It has a solar-powered shower block and fuels some of its vehicles with bio-diesel produced from waste vegetable oil from its restaurants and bars.

2. Oakdown Touring & Holiday Caravan Park

Most people want to keep out of the rough when they visit a golf course, but at Oakdown Touring & Holiday Caravan Park in Devon that’s the place most visitors want to be. The owner, Doreen Franks, has turned the wild areas of the park’s golf course into a fantastic nature reserve, complete with a dew pond, a flower meadow, a bird watching area with hide and a reedbed (which doubles as the park’s sewage treatment system). Doreen has cut a trail through the wildflower meadow to give the butterflies somewhere to rest when they’ve had their fill of nectar – although the golfers think it’s to help them retrieve lost balls.

3. Castlerigg Hall Caravan & Camping Park

Set in the heart of the Lake District National Park, Castlerigg Hall is a peaceful wildlife haven. The site boasts magnificent views of the surrounding hills and is home to an abundance of wildlife including deer, red squirrels, badgers, owls and ospreys. The park leads the way in getting its visitors involved in nature conservation: for example, it has run a wildlife-spotting competition for young visitors and asks all guests to add a small ‘green’ donation to their bills. This is then used to support footpath restoration projects on the slopes of Skiddaw.

As you can see, a David Bellamy park is the perfect choice if you are interested in getting closer to Britain’s wildlife and in supporting parks that are doing their bit to reduce their environmental impact and boost the biodiversity of their sites.

How are the awards judged?

The parks that take part in the scheme are all regularly assessed by the scheme’s team of local wildlife experts. The assessors look at the steps parks are taking to:

  • Manage their land as a haven for wildlife
  • Reduce their use of energy, water and other resources
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle the waste they produce
  • Support their local communities

David Bellamy uses the assessors’ reports (and any comments received from members of the public) to make his awards each year. Three levels of excellence can be achieved: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

The focus for all of David’s judgments is the work that parks are doing to boost biodiversity. However, the award tiers relate to the overall performance of the park in all of the areas listed above.

Go (really) green

If you choose to stay on a park that has a David Bellamy Conservation Award then you’ve taken an important step towards a more environmentally-friendly holiday. But there are loads of other things you can do to make your break really green. So when you set off on your next trip, why not try these top ten eco-travel tips?

1. Go green

The greenest way to get to your park is by public transport (or bicycle if you are really fit!) - check out our search for 'leave the car at home' parks. So ask your park for advice on how to arrive by train or bus - find a park that will pick you up from public transport. Of course, if you’re towing a caravan then you’ll have to drive, so see below for more advice.

2. Drive green

You probably know the green driving drill by now: avoid hard acceleration, keep your speed down, make sure your car is properly serviced, check your tyre pressure and, most importantly, only make the car trips you need to make.

3. Turn it off

Water is a valuable resource, so please help your park to save water by using taps and showers sensibly and remembering to turn them off. You can save up to five litres of water per minute by simply turning the tap off when you brush your teeth. If you use the park laundrette, then try and wait until you’ve got a full wash to do.

4. Switch it off

All parks in the award scheme are committed to saving energy - you can even find parks using renewable energy - so help them by turning off the lights in your caravan or lodge and by using any heating equipment sensibly. Gas-powered patio heaters have been shown to be big energy users, so please put on a jumper or coat instead of switching them on!

5. Recycle it!

Most of us recycle at home now, so why not do the same on holiday? You should find that recycling is easy if you stay at an award-winning park - you can filter your results for parks with recycling onsite - so please use whatever system has been set up. Remember that it is important to separate your waste properly, so check what’s meant to go in each recycling bin.

6. Eat local

Eating local food while you’re on holiday is a great way to get a true flavour of the bit of the UK you’re visiting. It’s also a great way to support the local rural economy and to cut down on the environmental impact of transporting your food from ‘field to fork’. Your park should stock locally-produced food and should also be able to point you to the nearest farmers’ market, pub or restaurant that sells it. Find a park with nearby farmers' market.

7. Have a great green time

A holiday is a great time to get out and explore the countryside and award-winning parks are located in some of the loveliest spots in Britain. As part of your break, why not visit any local nature reserves to really immerse yourself in the best of nature. When you venture out please leave the car behind and use feet, bikes or public transport to get around. Remember to use the Countryside Code at all times – leave only footsteps and take only photographs!

8. Feed the birds

There is a lot you can do to help wildlife on whichever park you visit. You can start by feeding the birds, keeping your dog under control (and pooper-scooped) and keeping your cat belled and in at night. Keep an eye out for the wildlife you see on site and let your park owner know what you see. Many award-winning parks are wildlife havens with wildlife trails or run wildlife watching walks – so why not give them a go?

9. Be a green consumer

When you are shopping at the park shop, or out on your travels, keep a look out for green products such as organic and fair-trade food, free-range eggs and other ‘livestock-friendly’ food, recycled paper products and low-energy light bulbs. Your park should stock some of these, so ask them what they’ve got. And remember to use a good tough shopping bag, rather than the throw-away plastic variety.

10. Support the countryside

By choosing a holiday on an award-winning park, you’ve shown that you are a friend of the countryside. There is a lot more you can do. Find out if your park supports any local conservation projects: lend your support too. Find out if there is anything practical you can do to help – many parks run conservation activity sessions (or even holidays) where you can try your hand at country crafts such as hedge laying. So why not lend a hand?

More information on David Bellamy Parks

For more information on the David Bellamy Conservation Awards, why not visit its dedicated website at www.bellamyparks.co.uk?

Read David Bellamy's interview in the Daily Mail on what campsites are doing for the environment.