Natural England - Enjoy, respect, protect the countryside with the refreshed Countryside Code

Enjoy, respect, protect the countryside with the refreshed Countryside Code

5 April 2012

The Easter holiday is a great opportunity to get out and explore the countryside – spring is in full swing and our woods, meadows, heaths and moors are flushed with green. A refreshed Countryside Code is being launched to help people get even more from their visits

Natural England is re-launching the Countryside Code - the refreshed version gives updated advice on rights of way, controlling dogs around livestock and wildlife, and preventing fires. Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Farmers' Union and the Ramblers are all encouraging people to read the Code to help them enjoy, respect and protect the countryside:

  • Enjoy the outdoors – Even when going out locally, it’s best to get the latest information about where and when you can go. For example, access to some areas of open access land and coastal land may be restricted in particular places at particular times. Find out as much as you can about where you are going, plan ahead and follow advice and local signs.

  • Protect the natural environment – We all have a responsibility to protect the countryside now and for future generations, so make sure you don’t harm animals, birds, plants or trees and take home everything you brought with you. When out with your dog make sure it is under effective control, and does not disturb farm animals, horses, wildlife or other people.

  • Respect other people - Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors. Remember that the countryside is a working environment and even small actions can lead to big disruption. Leave gates as you find them and take extra care to avoid the risk of starting wildfires.

Chair of Natural England, Poul Christensen said “Spring is a fantastic time of year to get out and enjoy our beautiful landscapes. As a farmer, I know the countryside isn’t just a place for relaxation – livelihoods as well as wildlife depend on it and we all have a responsibility to care for it. The Countryside Code is a reminder of how we can all enjoy and care for our natural heritage.”

NFU President, Peter Kendall said: “The updated Countryside Code provides a timely reminder to everyone planning to visit the countryside this Easter that following just a few simple tips will ensure your trip is a safe and enjoyable one. Farmland is a beautiful place - but it is also a working environment for farmers and growers. The advice on keeping your dog under effective control, leaving gates and property as you find them and following footpaths are all particularly relevant at this time of year.”

Benedict Southworth, Chief Executive of the Ramblers, Britain’s Walking Charity said: “This Easter we’re encouraging as many people as possible to enjoy the Easter weekend outdoors, taking in the sights and sounds of spring by getting out and walking with their families. Following the advice in the Countryside Code will help everyone enjoy the best that the countryside has to offer safely and responsibly, without any harm coming to the environment, those working in it and those out enjoying our wonderful landscapes.”

Edward Bromet, Chairman of the Moorland Association said: "At this time of year, the moors are alive with important ground nesting birds like curlew, golden plover, merlin and lapwing hidden away in the heather. The birds are hard to spot unless they are disturbed off their nests which can be fatal to eggs and chicks. Lapwings have been added to the Red List of birds of most conservation concern and walkers can help them and others breed successfully by sticking to paths. On open moorland, dogs are required to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals - and in some cases dogs may not be allowed at all. It is particularly important to plan ahead to exercise your dog properly and consider walks that avoid sensitive moorland and reduce the risk of unintended damage to wildlife and lambs.”

Natural England would like to thank the individual contributions made, together with the following organisations input into refreshing the Countryside Code – the Country Landowners and Business Association, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, the British Mountaineering Council, the Kennel Club, the Moorland Association, the National Farmers' Union, the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the British Horse Society, Local Access Forums, the Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management, the Fire Services and the Countryside Council for Wales.


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Lyndon Marquis, 0300 060 4236, 07786 277223,

About the Countryside Code

The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside. Most of it is just good commonsense, designed to help us all to respect, protect and enjoy our countryside. The Code, which applies in England and Wales, makes it clear what the responsibilities are for both the public and the people who manage the land.

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