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UK Responsible Rural Tourism Partnership: Changing the Way Tourism Businesses Celebrate and Conserve Local Landscapes
UK National Parks & Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty partner with RSPB South East to improve responsible rural tourism.
One of the Our Land farmers running a tourism business in the Cotswolds AONB
(Photo by Cotswolds AONB)
The RSPB, the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe, joins Our Land – a responsible tourism initiative in nine of the UK’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the South East of England to highlight how tourism can help with the conservation of our countryside.
The RSPB has long standing relationships with UK Protected Landscapes, including the South Downs National Park, High Weald and Surrey Hills AONBs. However this is the first time a partnership has been created with a specific focus on responsible tourism.
Nick Johannsen, Director of the Kent Downs AONB Unit and Chairman of Our Land says: "Tourism is a vital economic driver in the protected landscapes. Our Land’s partnership with the RSPB is fantastic, highlighting how responsible tourism can be integral to developing conservation and can support local economic growth."
The partnership marks the first anniversary of our-land.co.uk, a website offering over 500 rural holidays in a National Park or AONB, launched last October by Secretary of State for Culture, Sport & Olympics, Jeremy Hunt, Visit England’s CEO James Beresford and BBC’s Kate Humble, with nearly £1 million funding from DEFRA's Rural Development Programme for England. Every tourism business listed on the site is selected for their ongoing commitment to conserving UK landscapes so that visitors can directly or indirectly get involved in helping to protect the countryside for future generations.
To launch the partnership, Our Land’s network of tourism businesses in the National Parks and AONBs join the million strong RSPB members and over 20,000 volunteers who are part of the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement, which aims to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2020.
Through the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement, Our Land’s tourism businesses will receive advice and support about steps they can take to help wildlife. In turn, as part of Our Land's "conservation mapping" Love Our Land campaign, all the RSPB's nature reserves and conservation work in the National Parks and AONBs are being included on Our Land so that visitors can experience them for the first time alongside places to stay and things to do.
Our Land’s Amelia Shepherd says "With shared values on conservation, a partnership between Our Land and the RSPB strengthens the opportunity to get rural tourism right – so it works for conservation and protection of the much-loved features of our countryside, rather than against it. This is a significant step in demonstrating how a conservation organisation can work with a responsible tourism initiative and clarifies the importance of conservation within tourism."
Sophie McCallum, communications manager at RSPB south east, added: "This initiative highlights the importance of environmental tourism and the natural world to local economies and we are looking forward to sharing the success stories with our supporters."
The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. The largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe, RSPB has over one million members, over 18,000 volunteers, 1,300 staff, and more than 200 nature reserves. RSPB's work is focussed on the species and habitats that are in the greatest danger aiming to work for a better environment rich in birds and wildlife.
Our Land unites and celebrates a collection of the UK's National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Our Land website is packed with information to help people find out more about what the National Parks and AONBs have to offer, arrange visits, book short breaks and holidays and encourage people to discover and experience what's on offer. Our Land aims to cut air travel and create more sustainable rural communities through responsible tourism.
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More Views from UK's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Wildflower & butterfly in the High Weald AONB. The High Weald is less than an hour from London on the train, rising between the North Downs of Kent and the South Downs of Sussex. (Photo by the High Weald AONB)
An Autumn scene in the Surrey Hills AONB. The Surrey Hills, just to the south of London, is a world away from city life, with masses of woodland and historic houses and parkland. (Photo by: Surrey Hills AONB)
Wetherdown Lodge - an Our Land yurt business in the South Downs National Park (Photo by: Our Land)
Freshwater Bay holiday cottage, a self catering cottage in the Isle of Wight AONB (Photo by: Our Land)
Amelia Shepherd, campaign manager, Our Land
t: 01273 352 973, e: amelia[at]our-land.co.uk
Sam Stokes, RSPB south east media officer
t: 01273 763610, e: sam.stokes[at]rspb.org.uk