NRW warns against antisocial behaviour ahead of holiday weekend

A woman and two children on a walking trail at Gogerddan Wood

People visiting the great outdoors in Wales this Bank Holiday weekend and over the half term holiday are being urged to act responsibly and consider the impact inconsiderate behaviours such as fly camping and littering can have on the environment and wildlife.

This is the call from officers at Natural Resources Wales (NRW) who are busy working with partners to bring in extra measures to patrol trails, reserves and woodland in preparation for an expected increase in visitors over the holiday period.

Following the easing of coronavirus restrictions and with more people starting to explore areas further away from home, there have been increasing reports of antisocial behaviour caused by a small number of people on NRW’s sites,  This includes issues around fly camping, campervans parking overnight, fires, litter and irresponsible parking which the organisation has been quick to condemn.

Richard Owen from NRW’s Estate Recreation Planning and Land Stewardship team said:

“We know lockdown has been hard on everyone and while we’re all eager to take advantage of more opportunities to meet outdoors with friends and family, we’re asking that this enjoyment isn’t done at the expense of nature and others.
“We all need to be kind and respectful to nature by clearing up after ourselves and leaving no trace of our visit. The scenes of abandoned campsites, damaged habitats, verge parking, as well as litter, are totally unacceptable and a blight on Wales’ reputation as home to some of the world’s greatest landscapes.
“As we look forward to another long weekend, we’re urging everyone to be really considerate of the places they come to enjoy, and the people who live and work in these communities, so that others can enjoy them too.”

One of the most prevalent issues experienced in the Welsh countryside is the impact of fly camping - the term given when campers pitch tents or park campervans or motorhomes without the landowner’s permission.

The issue has been on the rise in Wales’ national parks, forests and nature reserves since lockdown restrictions have eased, leading to environmental damage and public health concerns.

With the potential impacts of coronavirus still very much a concern, NRW is urging those looking to camp overnight in Wales this weekend to act responsibly and only stay at designated campsites.

Richard added:

“Our sites have always been welcoming places for visitors but we must maintain a balance between the wishes of individuals to enjoy the outdoors, the needs of local communities and the fragility of our landscapes.
“All we ask is that people follow the Countryside Code, cause no damage and leave nothing behind.”

NRW is also asking visitors to consider its own recommended six steps to a safe return, designed to encourage people to check details about their destination prior to travelling.

Six steps to a safe return:

Before you visit:

  • Plan ahead- check what is open and closed before you set out. Pack hand sanitiser and face masks.
  • Avoid the crowds– choose a quiet place to visit. Make a ‘plan B’ in case your destination is too busy when you arrive.

While you’re there:

  • Park responsibly– respect the local community by using car parks. Do not park on verges or block emergency access routes.
  • Follow guidance– comply with site signs and Covid 19 safety measures to enjoy your visit safely.
  • Take your litter home– protect wildlife and the environment by leaving no trace of your visit.
  • Follow the Countryside Code– stick to trails, leave gates as you find them, keep dogs under control, bag and bin dog poo.

Information on how to prepare for your visit to NRW’s sites can be found here.

The updated Countryside Code can be viewed here.