The world is experiencing a climate crisis and it’s something that’s worrying 42% of us at least once a week, our new research shows*. For us, the outdoors is everything. We want to make sure we’re all playing our part to protect the planet, which is why we’ve launched our #SaveOurOutdoors campaign in collaboration with our friends at Runners Need.
Considering the part we can all play in protecting these spaces, Melanie Grünwald, our Head of Sustainability, says: “It doesn’t have to be a complete life overhaul, but if we all take some steps - for example, how we travel to our favourite outdoor spots, where we walk or dispose of our waste, how long we keep our outdoor kit for instead of replacing it – this all reduces our impact on the environment.”
We are proud to be partnered with some brilliant organisations who are doing wonderful things to #SaveOurOutdoors, here’s what they have to say:
Jack Cornish, Head of Paths at the Ramblers, said: “Walking has an important role to play in connecting people to nature and strengthening their desire to protect it from the devastating effects of climate change. It is also one of the best ways to enjoy the nation’s much-loved landscapes with little impact to the environment.
“But there are still many small steps we can take to protect our environment and the places we like to walk and explore. From the clothes we wear to the kit we use, we can make sustainable choices before we even leave the house. The Countryside Code also provides helpful guidance on how to enjoy a visit to the countryside responsibly, protecting it from threats such as litter and wildfires.
“In some popular locations, keeping to designated paths can help protect landscapes and natural wildlife habitats from harm, but for those wanting to venture off the beaten track, Ramblers group walks are a fantastic way to explore different parts of the country under the expert guidance of a walk leader who will ensure no trace is left behind. With more than 140,000 miles of public paths across England and Wales, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with us to help us to protect and expand the paths, tracks and trails that connect people to the great outdoors.”
With 58% of us concerned about what the state of the world will be in 50 years’ time, we’ve teamed up with environmental management and biodiversity conservation expert, John Howell from Living Resources, to show us what our favourite outdoor locations will look like if we don’t take action against climate change now. You can see the devastating effects of climate change on 10 of the UK’s most iconic and well-loved natural beauty spots below.
*Survey of 2,000 people carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Runners Need and Cotswold Outdoor.
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands
The grass is parched and the ground is dry while trees are left decaying in the forests. With the peat covering the moors now drying out, there isn’t enough water to keep the streams flowing into the loch, resulting in water levels dropping each year. With the remaining water heating up, algae blooms and the number of fish depletes.
Durdle Door, Dorset
Intense winter storms have caused the famous arch to collapse into the sea and the beach has become larger as a result. The grassland is brown and spring flowers on the cliffs rarely bloom, unable to cope in the intense droughts of the long, hot summers.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
As this is a commercial woodland used to satisfy the country’s demand for pulp and timber, the Scots pines have needed to be replaced with Corsican pines which are better suited to the warmer climate. They have almost settled and the canopy is starting to close.
St Austell Bay, Cornwall
The global demand for China clay has caused the mines to expand closer to the coast; however, intense rainstorms overwhelm their settling ponds and send plumes of clay into the bay, which takes weeks to disperse. The cliff vegetation has changed from lush and green to a landscape more recognisable in the Mediterranean.
Yr Wyddfa, Cymru / Snowdon, Wales
The top of the mountain has become more bare and heavier rainfall has caused gullies to activate on a scale not seen since the last glacial retreat, scarring the cliffs. The lower slopes are now sparse without their grasses and dwarf shrubs. The footpaths are badly worn and Llyn Llydaw is no longer used as a reservoir because of the drop in water levels.
Cairngorms, Eastern Highlands of Scotland
The rocky mountain crests now have little grass and heather, while bare peat between the rock oxidises and erodes, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere. The steep scree slopes lay open to heavy runoff from intense rainstorms, leaving the small corrie loch half the size it used to be because of the excess scree washed in. Now one of the coolest places in the UK, crowds flock to the Cairngorms in the summer to walk and cycle but are often unprepared for the remote and rugged environment. Because of the remoteness, the sight of helicopters evacuating people in danger becomes commonplace.
Hyde Park, Greater London
Repeated drought has left many of the trees slowly dying inside the park. Open areas are now dry and compacted from overuse, and flower beds are no longer vibrant. For half of the year, the Round Pond and Serpentine are almost dry and fringed by cracked mud.
Brecon Beacons, South Wales
The rolling grassland is now short and sparse, turning brown in the summer when south facing. Uncontrolled wildfires are a regular occurrence. Sheep farming has declined, resulting in neglected farmland, and footpaths and walking routes are heavily eroded. The rivers run low in the summer and more reservoirs have had to be built in the valleys to supply enough water for the cities to the south.
The River Coln is low in the summer and often green with algae. Yet in the winter, it is often flooded, brown with topsoil eroded from the surrounding farmland. There are now fewer trees and pasture fields have turned dry and brown. Footpaths are hot and dry in the summer and wet and muddy in the winter, ensuring walking here is no longer the pleasure it was.
Intensive rain has caused torrents to reactivate the gullies running through the crags, so that fresh scars are visible on the steep upper slopes. The grassland is now brown and sparse for much of the summer and the trees along the edge of the lake are reduced to about a third of the number that used to be there. They’re in such poor condition and slowly dying. During the summer months the lake also becomes discoloured by algal blooms and water drops by one metre.
Meet the expert, John Howell
John Howell has been professionally active in land management in the UK and overseas for 40 years. He studied geography and soil science before working for the Forestry Commission in Scotland. He then worked in reafforestation and helped develop nature-based land stabilisation in Nepal and other mountainous parts of South Asia for over twenty years.
More recently, he has worked in environmental management and biodiversity conservation in a range of countries, particularly in West Africa, from the coast to the mountain rainforests. In the UK, he has been responsible for the conservation of moorland and an ancient oak wood on his family’s Dartmoor estate, for which he has been the steward since the early 2000s.
John shared his tips on the small steps we can all take to work towards making a big difference to our natural landscapes and highlights the importance of abiding by the Countryside Code.
He also suggests:
If there is a paved path or track, stay on that
If there is no paved path, avoid bare and muddy areas, as soil loss by foot erosion takes years to restore
Remember that you might see your dog as a cuddly pet, but a bird instinctively sees a ruthless hunter, so keep your dog right beside you
Camp only in approved or designated areas
Put camping stoves and hot things on rocks and never on the ground
Bury your excrement and toilet paper at least 15cm down
Never damage any living vegetation, even mosses
Pass these messages to others (politely!) if you see them doing wrong
If you are in a National Park, AONB or other area with a ranger service, do call to report issues as soon as you see them
Join the #SaveOurOutdoors movement
Get involved by showing us the action you’re taking to help save our precious outdoor environments. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SaveOurOutdoors and tag us @cotswoldoutdoor in your posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What can I do?
We can all do our bit to protect the outdoors in our pursuit for lasting adventure. At Cotswold Outdoor we want to try and make things a bit easier for you which is why we offer our Recycle My Gear and Repair and Care services, to help keep your kit out of landfill. Check out some of our blogs for tips on enjoying the outdoors more sustainably.
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