More than 600 holiday parks where wild ideas flourish and take root are honoured in the latest round of the David Bellamy Conservation Awards.
Announced this autumn, the 2013/14 winners from across the UK mark the sixteenth anniversary of the award scheme started by Britain’s best-known botanist.
The awards highlight parks where successful efforts to protect the natural world produce real gains for both the environment and for holidaymakers.
Wildlife safaris, bird hides, nature trails, butterfly gardens, species-rich woodlands, and beautiful wildflower meadows are just some of the features on winning parks.
According to environmental adviser Rufus Bellamy, who helps his father administer the awards, the scheme was always intended to encourage parks to take bold and imaginative conservation steps:
“Many holiday parks in Britain, particularly those in rural areas, are blessed with abundant wildlife, and their owners are generally mindful of the need to manage their natural surroundings with sensitivity,” he said.
“The David Bellamy Conservation Awards encourage them to broaden their existing practices even further by adopting new initiatives to make their parks real havens for wildlife and to help protect the wider environment.
“The opportunities vary from business to business, but even a park in an urban setting can embrace measures which will make a real difference.”
“As well as being mini-nature reserves, the best parks are also leaders in terms of the steps they take to be more sustainable. For example, many have installed the latest renewable energy systems, aim for 100% recycling and buy, use and promote sustainably-produced, local food.”
Parks wishing to enter for an award must, as part of the evaluation process, allow all environmental aspects of their business to be audited by an assessor. The assessor’s brief is extremely wide ranging, and includes judging how well the park works within the community to make local life more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
The awards, emphasises Rufus, are as far from a box-ticking exercise as it’s possible to get, and the evidence of a park’s efforts will often be obvious for visitors to see:
“A big benefit of this scheme is that holidaymakers can often enjoy an extra dimension to their stay by choosing a park which offers a chance to get closer to nature.
“There are parks where you can build willow sculptures and put up bird boxes, gather herbs, join a ladybird hunt, or just enjoy an interpreted nature trail.
“David Bellamy has always described parks as important outdoor classrooms, and that’s why you will often find a special emphasis on activities which children can enjoy, said Rufus.