Walkers unaware of impacts on growers

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14 March 2022
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Survey reveals ignorance of Countryside Code

ALMOST nine in ten (86%) Brits are breaking the Countryside Code when they go out walking and potentially affecting growers' crops and work practices without realising, a new report has revealed. 

The report, carried out by Rohan, surveyed 2,000 walkers on their knowledge of the Countryside Code, and what they do to protect their favourite natural landscapes. The British designer and supplier of outdoor apparel has teamed up with the NFU to try to raise more awareness and encourage walkers to play their part.

The most common way that people breach the code, which advises people on how to enjoy and protect the countryside by acting responsibly, is by going through an open gate and closing it behind them (46%). Sam Durham, Chief Land Management Adviser at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), pointed out that sometimes growers will leave a gate closed or open for a reason - for example because they are working in the field and require regular access, but many members of the public aren't aware of this. 
 
The second most common violation is people leaving designated footpaths to make their own route (29%), which can potentially damage crops and soil and destroy areas left for wildlife. 

Just one in eight (12%) of the 2,000 respondents said they know exactly what the guidelines involve, and almost half (47%) have no knowledge at all, or aren’t sure. Unsurprisingly, people who walk frequently are far more aware of the Code than those who don’t. Brits who walk in the countryside every day are five times more likely to have some knowledge of the regulations than those who never do (77% vs 16%). 

Millennials (25-34s, 61%) and Gen Z (18-24s, 55%) are the most likely generations to have some awareness of the Code, yet admit to breaking its rules more than any other age group. More than nine in ten (93%) millennials have breached at least one aspect of the Code while out walking, and Gen Z aren’t far behind (92%). 

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Marketing Director at Rohan, Giles Polito, said: “We’ve long worked to inspire people to enjoy the great outdoors and all it has to offer, and it’s been fantastic to see more walkers than ever enjoying the British countryside in recent years. That being said, making small changes to our behaviour now will play a vital role in protecting these spaces for years to come, which is why the Countryside Code is so important.  

“It offers advice on how we can all help to care for our natural environments so that they can be appreciated by future generations. In addition, as part of our anniversary plans looking ahead to the next 50 years of UK adventure, we’ve consulted with the NFU to help spread the word about the importance of the Code, and help walkers play their part in protecting our amazing countryside for all to use, benefit from and enjoy.”  

To see the full report click here.

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