North Wales Environmental Outdoor Charter
At Snowdonia-Active we know that we have a responsibility to look after the environment and keep our impact to a minimum. Some people think that some places are too special and too sensitive to carry all the people who want to enjoy them. Getting this balance right, we think is summed up by the phrase Reconciling Conservation & Recreation. In 2012 we formalised this approach and launched the Environmental Charter North Wales. Working closely with stakeholders we developed the Environmental Charter, which defines good practice for responsible recreation and promotes the sustainable use of the landscape for recreation and leisure activities. The Environmental Charter now has 160 signatories.
In the early days of the Charter Group, Snowdonia-Active organised local group meetings which brought together outdoor providers, external agencies, conservationists and land managers. This facilitated a platform for discussion between user groups; a place to raise issues and build consensus. Snowdonia-Active financially supported these meetings for 3 years, however, in 2015 an executive decision was made, that in the absence of external funding these meetings were not sustainable. Since then Snowdonia-Active continues to seek funding to deliver training and resources which aim to ensure that the outdoor recreation sector grows sustainably.
In the absence of an NGB/NGO for Gorge Walking/Canyoning, the Wales Adventure Tourism Organisation (WATO) regional groups (South Wales Outdoor Activity Provider Group and Snowdonia-Active) and core member representatives have established some guidelines for the safe delivery of gorge walking and canyoning on behalf of its wider membership.
We have successfully secured funding for several innovative environmental charter projects which have included:
1. Environmental training for outdoor providers
Our environmental training always takes place in the environment the activity is delivered. This enables ‘on the ground’ discussion and keeps active outdoor instructors engaged. Sessions offer an opportunity for learning, sharing best practice and building relationships between stakeholders.
Examples of previous training (and delivery partners);
+ Coasteering and Marine Ecology (North Wales Wildlife Trust)
+ Habitat Exploration Workshop (Natural Resources Wales)
+ Afon Ddu (gorge walking) Ecology (Gritten Ecology)
+ The Shaping of Snowdonia (Cwm Idwal) (Paul Gannon)
+ Connecting to Nature (Nature’s Work)
Funded by various partners.
2. iSee waterproof field guides
Our iSee guides are a collection of resources aimed at helping outdoor providers to educate their groups on the environments they operate in. Each booklet contains quality imagery combined with interesting factoids to inspire environmental learning. Pdf guides can be downloaded from Films & Publications and hard copies can be collected from the Snowdonia-Active office. Funded by various partners.
3. North Wales Gorges Code of Conduct
In March 2020, NRW convened a meeting of outdoor activity providers and other stakeholders with an interest in the responsible management of North Wales gorges. As a result, Snowdonia-Active were asked to develop a North Wales Code of Conduct with the aim of promoting best practice by operators in these beautiful and sensitive environments.
4. North Wales uplands project:
Based on the principle of ‘educate the educator’ this project focused on minimising and reversing adverse effects from access and recreation across several sensitive areas in North Wales. The project involved:
+ The creation of iSee North Wales uplands – a field guide to the upland ecology found in North Wales. A downloadable pdf is available on the Films & Publications page. Free waterproof copies are available from Snowdonia-Active.
+ Environmental education sessions for outdoor providers which focused on understanding protected sites, minimising erosion, environmental group management and species identification.
+ Specific site guides for five venues across North Wales. The site guides include specific information about habitats and priority species, their designation and best practice guidelines detailed for each site. Downloadable versions are available on the Films & Publications page.
Funded by a range of partners: Natural Resources Wales, Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, Snowdonia National Park, British Mountaineering Council and Mountain Training Association.