10 May, 2012
Our Countryside Code series, which
started last month with 'Respect Other People' is looking at the
set of simple principles which can help both members of the public
and landowners to get the most out of our beautiful
This month, we look at the second principal of the Countryside
Code for the Public, which is 'Protect the Natural Environment'.
It's split into two key points - leaving no trace of your visit and
keeping dogs under control - and as with all six principles of the
Countryside Code it's an easy to follow guide which if adhered to
will keep the countryside protected for many years to come.
Leave no trace of your visit and take your rubbish
Leaving no trace of your visit to the countryside is essential
in allowing others to enjoy their visit too. Protecting the natural
environment means taking special care not to damage, destroy or
remove natural features including rocks, plants and trees. As well
as adding to everybody's enjoyment and making the British
countryside unique, they provide homes and food for wildlife and
should be left undisturbed.
Make sure that when you go home, you take all your rubbish with
you. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish are criminal offences, and
leaving your litter and leftover food behind not only spoils the
natural beauty of the countryside, but it can also be dangerous to
wildlife and farm animals.
The countryside is the perfect place for a picnic, but not a
barbecue or bonfire. Fires can easily get out of hand and can be as
devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and
property. Don't start fires, and be careful with any naked flames
If you see an unattended fire, the best thing to do is report it
to the emergency services by calling 999. Although controlled fires
are sometimes used to manage vegetation, if you spot a fire but
can't see the famer to ask it's better to be safe than sorry and
Keep dogs under effective control
If you are taking your dog with you to the countryside, it's
important to make sure they don't disturb any wildlife, farm
animals, horses or other people. The easiest way to do this is by
keeping them on a lead, but if you do let them off make sure they
are always in your sight, don't let dogs stray into any area
where you don't have a right of access, and only let them go if you
are confident they will return on command.
Some areas have special rules for dogs, so be on the lookout for
any signs that will help guide you. Some places have bans,
restrictions, byelaws and controlling orders limiting where dogs
can go; for example Open Access land requires dogs to be kept on a
lead between 1 March and 31 July to protect ground nesting birds
and all year round near farm animals, and in some coastal areas
dogs must be kept on the lead during the bird breeding season.
If you know you're likely to come across farm animals or horses
it's good practice to keep your dog on a lead, even when it's not a
legal requirement. As well as protecting the animals, it can
protect you and your dog as farmers can shoot a dog which is
attacking or chasing animals without being liable to compensate the
On the other hand, if cattle or horses are chasing you, it's
safer to let your dog off the lead and let them take care of
themselves. You can then concentrate on getting yourself to
Finally, clean up after your dog and get rid of its mess
responsibly. Also make sure your dog is wormed regularly, to
protect the dog, other animals and people.
Coming next in our Countryside Code series - Enjoy the
For more information about the Countryside Code, please visit
the Natural England website.