Outdoor visitors are urged to say hello, smile more, stay on sidewalks, and always put their dog’s poo in a new Countryside Code.
An updated version of the code, which provides advice on how visitors to natural sites should behave, is launched on the 70th anniversary of the booklet’s first publication in 1951.
It’s the first time the code has been updated in a decade, although there were some updates last summer in response to issues highlighted during the lockdown, such as an increase in litter and dogs that are a concern for livestock.
Officials said the new version, which is because more people are using green spaces, is designed to help the public be safe, care for the natural environment and protect the livelihoods of people living in rural areas.
An updated version of the Countryside Code will be launched on the 70th anniversary of the booklet’s first publication. It’s the first time the code has been updated in ten years (file photo)
The updated version includes clearer rules for dog walkers to pack their pet’s poo and take it home in their own bin when there are no public waste bins (file photo)
It will be launched before Easter weekend as the relaxation of lockdown restrictions is expected to result in large numbers of people visiting rural areas.
Changes to the code include advice on creating a welcoming environment for other people by being nice and saying hello, and reminders not to feed livestock, horses, or wild animals and stay on marked walkways, even if they are muddy, to protect crops and wildlife.
There are also clearer rules for dog walkers to pack their pet’s poop and take it home when there are no public waste bins, and information about permits for certain activities, such as wild swimming.
The code aims for a change of tone to create a guide for the public, rather than a list of rules, as it recognizes the benefits to people of spending time in nature and encourages people to ‘enjoy your visit , to have fun, a memory ‘.
It also makes it clear that the guidance applies to all natural places, including parks and waterways, coast and countryside.
Launched by the Natural England and Natural Resources Wales government agencies, the new version was created in response to an online survey that received nearly 4,000 responses and was welcomed by rural and farming groups.
Tony Juniper, President of Natural England, said: ‘With more people than ever before seeking solace in nature, this refresh cannot come at a critical time’
What are the changes to the Countryside Code?
Changes to the code include:
- Advice on creating a welcoming environment for other people by being nice and saying hello;
- Reminders not to feed livestock, horses, or wild animals;
- Stay on marked walkways, even when muddy, to protect crops and wildlife;
- Clearer rules for dog walkers to pack their pet’s poo and take it to their own waste bin if there are no public waste bins;
- Information about permission for certain activities such as wild swimming.
Tony Juniper, President of Natural England, said: “The Countryside Code has been an excellent guide for people for over 70 years on how to get outside and enjoy the outdoors safely.
With more people than ever before seeking comfort in nature, this refresh can’t come at a critical time.
“We want everyone to be aware of the Code so that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy the invaluable health and wellness benefits that nature has to offer, while giving her the respect she deserves.”
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said, “With so many people visiting the countryside, the Countryside Code has never felt more relevant.
“Crucially, it now encompasses all green spaces, waterways, the coast and even parks in cities and towns, so that now that we remove restrictions, everyone can enjoy a greener future.”
Mark Bridgeman, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents 28,000 rural business owners in England and Wales, said: “ As more people are expected to explore rural areas at Easter, it is imperative that the Code gets right read and respected. and followed.
While no significant changes have been made to the code, the message is clear: respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors.
“By closing gates behind you and sticking to sidewalks, keeping your dog under control and collecting waste, there’s no reason we can’t work together to keep the countryside beautiful for everyone.”