December 23, 2014
Holiday parks that make wildlife feel as much at home as their human guests have been celebrated in the latest round of the David Bellamy Conservation Awards.
This autumn, more than 500 parks were named as winners of the 2014/15 awards, and presented accolades at the gold, silver and bronze levels.
These awards mark the seventeenth year of the scheme, which was started by the internationally famous botanist to highlight exceptional efforts by parks to protect the natural world.
The long list of achievements of the winning parks includes everything from the creation of butterfly gardens and nature trails to the building of wildlife ponds and bird-hides.
But single projects by themselves will not earn a park an award, according to Rufus Bellamy who helps his father administer the awards. To stand a chance of qualifying, the park must submit all aspects of its operation to the scrutiny of an independent assessor trained in the running of the scheme:
“Their brief is extremely broad, and covers not just the more obvious initiatives such as creating wildlife habitats and the erection of bird boxes, valuable though these are,” says Rufus.
He explains that the scheme’s assessors take a holistic view of each park’s conservation policies, and judge how far this is succeeding in making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly business.
“That’s why moves such as harnessing renewable energy, protecting the night sky from light pollution, harvesting rainwater for irrigation and recycling can all make a difference,” he says.
“We also look at factors such as how well the park works within the community, promotes locally sourced food, or encourages guests to use local transport rather than their cars.”
David Bellamy also attaches great importance to the ways in which parks help children engage with nature through activities such as bat-watches, wildlife safaris, or building willow sculptures.
“Holiday parks provide an important introduction to the natural world for many children, and can inspire a lifelong love of our unique countryside and the desire to protect it,” says Rufus. “These awards encourage parks to keep pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished, and to adopt even bolder and more imaginative measures which make a real difference.”