A new, refreshed Countryside Code has been launched by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the founding booklet.
With more people enjoying the outdoors than ever before, the code has been revised to help people enjoy countryside in a safe and respectful way.
This update – the first in over a decade – has been shaped by nearly 4,000 stakeholder responses, which sought views on best practices for visiting the countryside and protecting the natural environment.
Key changes to the Countryside Code include:
- New advice for people to ‘be nice, say hello, share the space’ as well as ‘enjoy your visit, have fun, make a memory’.
- A reminder not to feed livestock, horses or wild animals.
- To stay on marked footpaths, even if they are muddy, to protect crops and wildlife.
- Information on permissions to do certain outdoor activities, such as wild swimming.
- Clearer rules for dog walkers to take home dog poo and use their own bin if a there are no public waste bins.
- A refreshed tone of voice, creating a guide for the public rather than a list of rules – recognising the significant health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature.
- New wording to make clear that the code applies to all our natural places, including parks and waterways, coast and countryside.
Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: “With so many people visiting the countryside, the Countryside Code has never felt more relevant. Crucially it now covers all green spaces, waterways, the coast and even parks in towns and cities, so that everyone, as we lift restrictions, can enjoy a greener future.”
The pandemic has changed people’s relationships with nature. Evidence from Natural England shows the importance of nature to people’s health and wellbeing, with 85% of people surveyed saying that being in nature makes them happy.
Natural England is also setting up a long-term Countryside Code campaign to increase awareness of the Code through 2021 and beyond. The campaign will focus on encouraging behavioural change amongst public audiences to act responsibly when visiting outdoors, by respecting those who manage the land and adhering to the Code.