22nd February 2021
The past twelve months have seen unprecedented numbers of people visiting our wonderful National Parks but this, in turn, has created huge recreational pressures on vulnerable landscapes and communities.
While we welcome responsible visitors and the Parks have provided an essential lifeline for many living outside, there have been some well-publicised incidents of gridlocked roads, impromptu, rubbish-strewn, ‘wild’ camping sites and highly sensitive relict ancient woodlands being trampled and stripped of moss and fungi by selfish foragers.
BBC lifestyle programmes, such as Countryfile, offer everyone a beautifully produced and evocative taste of country living and pursuits. Such coverage rightly encourages people from all backgrounds to get out and enjoy the countryside. However, the producers also have a responsibility not to draw attention to extremely sensitive locations or to repeatedly promote potentially harmful activities like foraging.
Broadcasters do have an important part to play in educating the public to enjoy the countryside in a responsible and sustainable way and should always weigh up the benefits of any feature aimed at a mass audience against the possible harmful impact to individual locations, habitats and communities.
I attach photographs taken by Dartmoor photographer, Chris Chapman, showing the measures that have had to be taken to reduce the pressure on the precious SSSI site of Wistman’s Wood on central Dartmoor and the attendant traffic problems and damage caused by inconsiderate parking.
Alan Endacott MA
Acting Chair, The Dartmoor Society
Traffic cones placed at Two Bridges, Princetown, Dartmoor in an attempt to control parking due to the increased visitor pressure on Wistman’s Wood.