Land owners and farm managers welcome visitors to the Welsh countryside - but ask that they abide by the Countryside Codes
"Enjoy, respect and protect are the watchwords of the Countryside Codes,” says CLA Cymru Director, Nigel Hollett. “Welsh people should enjoy exercise and recreation in the countryside, but we call on them to comply with the Welsh Government’s guidelines and show respect and care to the environment, farms and the rural community.”
Nigel’s urgent call comes as the current lockdown sees many more people enjoying the countryside, particularly with so many other activities curtailed. Some public footpaths and bridleways are coming under great strain and trespassing occurs where rights-of-way simply don’t exist. Increased use and wet weather are leading to walkers straying off legal routes creating muddy expanses across fields and the loss of productive land. Some footpaths are inappropriately becoming cross-country cycling tracks. Farmers are also reporting an increase in litter: discarded tissues reminding us all of the medical risks of the pandemic.
Nigel adds, “Wet ground is vulnerable enough to erosion in normal circumstances; but increased footfall and increase in illegal cross-country cycling on footpaths does raise concerns for land managers and others focused on environmental care. Some Welsh police forces have reported some tragic cases of sheep fatality caused by dog-attack.” Nigel continues, “At this time of year ewes are heavily in lamb and their fleeces are wet. They cannot escape quickly, they can panic. The result can be tragic and damaging for a farmer’s business.”
“The countryside has invaluable benefits for people’s mental and physical wellbeing – we are working with the Welsh Government in response to its proposals to improve access. However the protection of bio-diversity, the environment, farms and the rural community must be a priority.”
“All of us using the countryside must understand that the rural environment is a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected. Farmers are under considerable pressure from all directions, and do not need the added stress of trespass, while trying to feed the nation.
“We are advising members on the practicalities of access management, and we would hope those who use the rights of way network will familiarise themselves with their own rights and responsibilities, by following the Countryside Codes clearly and attractively presented on the Natural Resources Wales website”:
Welsh people should enjoy exercise and recreation in the countryside, but we call on them to comply with the Welsh Government’s guidelines and show respect and care to the environment, farms and the rural community