Wednesday, 14 March 2012
In the first ‘cultural mapping’ project of its kind, people are being encouraged to get involved by posting what they love on Facebook and Twitter - in words, pictures or film - to discover and celebrate the much-loved and distinctive features of the landscapes on our doorstep in order to help conserve and protect them for future generations. The project is being run by ‘Our-Land.co.uk’, a Government-funded rural development programme, including the New Forest National Park Authority.
Outdoor enthusiast Alan Titchmarsh is among the first to say in 140 characters what he loves: “The flora and fauna of the Surrey Hills make them a unique and valuable natural resource well worth treasuring.” The Love Our Land campaign is also supported by VisitEngland, Natural England, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, and VisitWoods (part of The Woodland Trust).
Kate Shepherd, Our Land’s Manager, said: “This is the first time the UK conservation movement has ever asked the general public – visitors and tourists - about their perceptions, associations and memories of the landscape. Social media is the perfect way to crowd source this information and remind people of the incredible places to visit and love on our doorstep. So many of us have lived in or visited the UK’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Love Our Land campaign needs you!
“Research shows that people who visit the natural environment are more likely to protect it. Our Land’s aim is to inspire people to re-discover the ‘Protected Landscapes’ and boost the vital revenue generated through tourism, whilst ensuring the long-term protection of the areas.”
James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland, commented: “English Tourism Week shines a light on the quality and diversity of our visitor experiences, so we’re thrilled that the “Love Our Land” campaign is launching in tandem. By asking people to nominate what they enjoy most about the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Our Land will create a fantastic tourism tool and we fully support anything that proactively encourages more visitors to get out and about and enjoy our country.”
From Friday 9 March people can tell us what they love about our land on the Our Land Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ourlanduk, or on Twitter using the hashtag #loveourland (@ourlanduk). There will be a monthly poll for Facebook page entries and an annual competition, judged by a panel of experts with prizes for entrants who best encapsulate ‘Love Our Land’. Prizes include holidays to the UK’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Our Land www.our-land.co.uk is funded for three years with nearly £1million from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), and is run in partnership with leading marketer of responsible tourism: www.responsibletravel.com. It currently includes two of England’s National Parks (New Forest, South Downs) and seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Chilterns, Cotswolds, High Weald, Isle of Wight, Kent Downs, North Wessex Downs, Surrey Hills).