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Outdoor Charter Group

The relevance and practicality of an Outdoor Charter Group for Snowdonia was discussed at a recent meeting organised by Snowdonia-Active and held at Plas Tan y Bwlch.

Chaired by Dei Tomas, Vice-President of the Campaign for National Parks and well known BBC Cymru broadcaster, the meeting was well attended by representatives from statutory bodies such as the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Visit Wales, Environment Agency Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales. Outdoor education centres, Plas y Brenin, Sustainable Use of Snowdonia, British Mountaineering Council, Bangor University and private outdoor activity providers were also among those in attendance.

The county of Pembrokeshire already has an Outdoor Charter Group (www.pembrokeshireoutdoors.org.uk) that was formed to develop sustainable growth in the rapidly expanding outdoor activity industry.

Membership of their Charter is free but members are expected to sign up to a code of agreed best practice and attend a small number of training sessions and meetings each year. Activity providers who join can use an accreditation logo in their marketing to flag up their environmental credentials.

Tom Luddington, who currently runs this Group, gave an informative presentation on his work and what has been achieved since it was established in 2002. You can watch Tom Luddington talk about what they are doing in Pembroke in a short introductry video from the 2009 Wildlife Sightings Event. In total the Pembrokeshire Group has attracted £245,000 of funding since its inception with some of it coming from the private sector (local businesses and industry).

In the Brecon Beacons a similar Outdoor Charter is currently being developed for outdoor activity businesses to express their commitment to the conservation of the National Park's special environment. Their Outdoor Charter Text is available at www.breconbeacons.org.

After Tom's presentation the meeting split into three discussion groups to address whether there is a need for such a Group in Snowdonia and to look at the potential benefits it could bring, along with the difficulties that would be faced in setting it up.

The consensus reached was that setting up such a charter would be a good idea. The independent stance of the Pembrokeshire Group was felt to be a particular strength and it would be important to see that maintained in any similar Charter Group for this region. It was also felt that the geographical area to be covered should be North Wales. Dei Tomos concluded the meeting with the suggestion that a working group should be set up to take the project forward. Snowdonia–Active offered to facilitate the necessary steps to ensure this happens.

If you an organization or outdoor activity provider who is interested in getting involved, contact chris@snowdonia-active.com

Topic: Snowdonia Outdoor Charter Group, Sustainability.

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