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Look Don’t Touch: Why It’s Important To Protect Wildlife During Holiday Season

Live in harmony with nature on your next big holiday.

77% of UK holidaymakers would consider their impact on the environment in a post-pandemic world — this follows a pause in widespread travel that saw nature recover in a year of lockdown. From clean waterways and reduced traffic to more wildlife entering human settlements, it’s clear as day to see how Earth benefited from less human intervention. 

That said, the absence of tourism was both a blessing and a curse. The loss of business took a financial toll on holiday providers, and the desperate lack of adventure left many yearning for their big trip. As the world edges closer to normality, we ask: why is it important to protect nature when planning a post-pandemic adventure? 

The Lake District is proud to welcome new faces, but in return, you should look to live in harmony with this protected land. In this article, we explore your holiday’s impact on wildlife, the rise of eco-friendly accommodation, and how to best preserve nature during your stay. 

What impact does tourism have on the Lake District? 

The Lake District is among Britain’s most popular tourist destinations, with millions of visitors flocking to its mountainous landscapes and shimmering lakes every year. This high demand calls for a myriad of facilities such as hotels, marinas, and leisure complexes, which isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of the lush green, unspoilt area. 

Tourism provides the Lake District with many benefits, from steady income to raising awareness around important conservation work. But there are downsides. For instance, traffic causes congestion on the narrow roads, large numbers of hikers accelerate footpath erosion, and popular water sport activities damage the lakes, disturbing local wildlife. 

Sustainable tourism is key to holidaying in the Lake District. Guarded by its partners such as the National Trust, the vision is laid out as follows: for the National Park to be an inspirational example of sustainable development in action. The local community wants to profit from your holiday so long as it’s in keeping with the environment and supports their mission. 

How to protect nature on your next holiday (a few top tips)

Protecting wildlife during the holiday season doesn’t begin and end with choosing eco-friendly accommodation. Far from it in fact. You should continue to live in harmony with the Lake District long into your stay. In this section, we reveal a few top tips for protecting nature while enjoying your holiday. 

Marvel at wildlife from a safe distance

The rolling hills and mossy woodland of the Lake District are teeming with life, from farm animals to wild rarities like red squirrel, marsh harrier, and otter. But while an honour to be around the best of British nature, you must treat local wildlife with respect. As such, you should only seek to observe these animals from a safe distance, otherwise, you risk disturbing their dens or nests — a particularly precarious event during the breeding season. 

To do this successfully you’ll need a tool kit, namely a range of binoculars for all scenarios. 8X binoculars are fine for birdwatching around the campsite at Dodgson Wood. 10X binoculars, on the other hand, are more suited for long distance viewing over the lakes, perhaps Haweswater RSPB Reserve, Coniston or Windermere. The stronger magnification gives a narrow field of view, ideal for long distance birding and animal watching. 

Ensure you accommodation respects the local area

Big change starts on a local level by respecting a place’s culture and deep-rooted values. This is a notion that should extend to your chosen accommodation. After all, you should stay in a place that lives in harmony with the area and supports the local community. 

The Lake District is famed for its proud agricultural heritage, so there is plenty of local food and hospitality to enjoy. Dodgson Woods, for example, is a family-owned business with owners who advocate sustainability and high animal welfare farming. The two owners, John and Maria, also believe in farm diversification. This includes the accommodation sites and a range of homemade products like wool and soap. They also distribute meat across the local area in butchers and restaurants — talk about caring for the community. 

Summary: why is it important to protect wildlife on holiday? 

Protecting wildlife and the local area while on holiday is all about staying and leaving without a trace. You should look to maximise the benefits of tourism like improving the local economy and supporting conservation work, but also minimise your more negative impacts such as habitat disturbance. This is important because you allow the Lake District to continue its mission without being a hindrance to future success. 

Many thanks for this article given to us on behalf of RSPB.

August 2021

Written for Cumbria Life.

John: As the summer slowly turns to autumn on the farm, we start getting exited about the sheep sales. It’s a time for being proud of your achievements as well as investing in the future as the last year’s crop of lambs start being sold and future sires are purchased. Farmers from throughout the Lake District valleys congregate at the main sale centres so it’s also a great opportunity to see old friends and catch up on some farming gossip. The farmers and their sheep will be dressed up for the day, the best crook will be placed carefully in the vehicle, the lambs or rams loaded in the trailer knee deep in straw or sawdust. Days of preening, pedicures, fake tans and powdered faces, all go into the big sale day and that’s only the sheep. The farmer will have his or her best country wear on and smell of sheep dip and coal tar. The price the sheep make this day is the culmination of many years of selective breeding, care and nurturing generations of offspring to provide what their cohorts desire. This may be females for the lowland farms to breed from or rams to produce the next years progeny, all dressed up to make the best impression. The sale ring will be packed to the rafters (COVID allowing) with folk that may not have seen each other since the last sale, the chatter will be exited if the trade is good and subdued if it’s bad. As farmers we don’t get a regular income: no wage packet or monthly orders. These days make or break the bank balance and the soul, but this year looks like being a good one so let’s enjoy it while we can and revel in the beauty that is a Bonny Lamb. 

Maria: This month John went on a mini break to Wales with a fabulous, enthusiastic team of people that work with us: Becky, Sarah and Joe. I volunteered to stay on the farm to look after the animals so that John could have a well-deserved holiday. But, to be honest I was delighted to be left at home and it was a break for me too. I realised that in the six years that I have been on the farm, I’ve never been by myself for more than a few hours at a time. After years of living alone, moving on to a family farm was a big culture shock. When I lived in my last flat in London, if there was an unexpected knock, I’d quietly peer through the peephole before either tiptoeing away or unbolting and unlocking the door, annoyed by an unscheduled visit. Now, friends and family easily wander in and out of the house every day.  This morning, John’s dad came to the door with a bag of apples he’d just picked before spending the day working with John; our friend Rachel is staying for a few days before setting off in her van to Germany where she has a shearing job lined up; tonight we’ve organised a BBQ as some friends from Jersey are staying with us too. I love the openness of our farm but spending those few days on my own was a real joy. It’s easy to lose yourself in the busyness of life and to have some quiet time felt really important. And I also managed looking after all the animals without having to call on anyone to help!

John took some time on his trip to visit the Welsh Organic Tannery. After the disaster with our last batch of sheepskins, we began looking into setting up our own tannery and John wanted to visit their small set-up to get an in idea of what we’d be letting ourselves in for. Joe, who was with John on the tannery tour, got very enthusiastic and has decided that he’d like to take this up as his own business venture, enticing Sarah to work with him. We are delighted about this. Firstly, because it means we don’t have to start yet another business from scratch, but also, we’re excited to help them set up their own independent business. So, hopefully in the next year so, the Lake District will have a sheepskin tannery where farmers like us can have their own sheepskin rugs made.