More than 560 holiday parks where wild ideas flourish and take root are celebrated in the latest round of the David Bellamy Conservation Awards.
The recently announced 2019 winners from across the UK mark the 22nd anniversary of the scheme which was started by Britain’s best-known botanist.
The accolades 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 Rufus Bellamy, environmental adviser to the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, the scheme encourages parks to take bold and imaginative conservation steps:
“Many parks in Britain are blessed with abundant wildlife, and their owners are generally mindful of the need to manage their natural surroundings with sensitivity,” he said.
“These awards challenge them to broaden their existing practices 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 sustainability.
“For example, many have installed the latest renewable energy systems, aimed for one hundred percent recycling, tackled the headline issue of single-use plastics and promoted locally-produced foods,” said Rufus.
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 independent assessor.
The assessor’s brief is very wide ranging, and includes judging how well the park works within the community to make local life more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
“A big benefit of this scheme is that holidaymakers can often enjoy an extra dimension to their stay by choosing a park which offers them a chance to get closer to nature,” said Rufus.
“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.
In addition to the main gold, silver and bronze conservation awards, parks can also gain additional commendations for carrying out special projects identified each year.
Parks can be presented with these if they have taken major steps to, for example, protect honey bees, create new hedgerows, provide woodland habitats, and plant wild flowers.
This year saw a new challenge introduced to encourage parks to get their guests and residents involved in on-park conservation projects such as green gardening clubs and local beach cleans.
Parks which have received the 2019 David Bellamy award can be found at www.ukparks.comhttp://www.ukparks.com/bellamy-awards/