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LDWA Environmental Sustainability Policy

Background

The LDWA is a non-profit making recreational association whose existence depends on being able to attract members, and whose members appreciate the environmental beauty and diversity of the natural rural environment. Without members the LDWA is not sustainable, but without a high quality natural environment to walk in, the LDWA is equally unsustainable.

Developing an environmental sustainability policy for the Association is challenging as a balance needs to be found between introducing and developing practices that improve sustainability, without alienating its membership through the introduction of "rules" or practices that might be at worst unpopular, at best not understood, and that members might feel are imposed upon them.

This policy is very much one of recommendation and education with explanation rather than enforcement, with the aim to take the LDWA forward as an environmentally responsible association which strives to reduce the impact of its activities rather than take the minimal approach of simply having an environmental statement.

The positive approach is that numerous small actions will add up to make a significant beneficial difference.

Scope

LDWA members are involved in walks

  • As individuals.
  • In small groups walking a route together (social walks).
  • In larger numbers on challenge events where the walkers follow the same or similar route but at their own pace and where support is offered by the event organiser.

This policy is intended principally to apply to the organisation of challenge events and social walks but it is hoped that members undertaking individual walks will be mindful of the environmental issues that are raised

This policy also covers meetings to organise them and run the Association. They are focussed on Environmental Sustainability, but reference also Social Sustainability. Economic sustainability is not in scope.

In terms of major environmental impact factors of Green House Gas emissions, Water, Waste, Air Quality and Sustainable Sourcing of materials, the primary focus of this policy is greenhouse gas reduction, but waste, and sustainable sourcing are also considered. Air Quality is clearly out of scope, while water impact is only briefly considered in this policy as the LDWA’s impact on this natural resource is minimal. (It should however be noted that all factors are interwoven, and that actions taken to reduce one may actually give rise to an increase in another

Policy Guidelines

1. Issues relating to the choice of route and volume of walkers

  • Numbers on a walk

The LDWA restricts numbers on a challenge walk to a maximum of 500 walkers. This is designed to ensure that the impact on the environment is manageable as well as out of regard for landowners and other path users. Organisers should consider what should be the appropriate maximum number of walkers on an event having regard to these considerations.

 

  • Over-used routes:

It is of concern that some paths are badly eroded from overuse. Organisers should consider using less well used paths and avoiding particularly eroded areas.

 

  • Habitats

Organisers should be sensitive to the natural environment and the effect of walkers. This is of particular concern in the spring when walkers can disturb ground nesting birds and rare flowering plants. It is good practise to consult with bodies such as the local Wildlife Trust, English Heritage and the National Trust to avoid unintended damage to the natural environment.

 

  • Litter

The dropping of litter in any form is completely unacceptable on LDWA walks and organisers should ensure that this is known and understood and that receptacles for litter are available at checkpoints and event headquarters.

 

  • Toilet facilities

Organisers should consider the provision of toilet facilities at event centres and checkpoints and the use of public toilets on the route. On occasions where toilets are not available and there is a need for people to relieve themselves this should be done discretely, away from residential areas, roads, paths and thoroughfares, and taking care not to pollute streams and watercourses. Ideally any solid excretia should be buried.

2. Transportation

Given that Long Distance Walking is typically a rural activity our most significant impact is almost certainly walker’s transport to/from the start/finish or our events. In many cases public transport is not available, either at all, or at the appropriate time for our walks.

We should aim to:

  • Encourage walkers to car share wherever possible
  • Point out public transport options to walkers where they are available

Similar consideration should also apply to LDWA committee meetings (both regional and national).

Consideration should also be given to minimise the miles driven by marshals and helpers during Challenge events.

3. Strider magazine

While paper copies of Strider magazine are valued by the majority of members, we should give members the option of receiving an electronic version instead if they

choose. While receiving an electronic version instead of a paper version would be on the basis of positive opt in, we should consider incentivising this choice by offering a reduced membership rate, or alternatively donate the postage costs saved to a suitable cause- for example the upkeep of footpaths. We should also remind those electing for electronic versions not to print out the magazine themselves, as that defeats the object, but to read and store the publication electronically.

We should consider the viability of paper copies of Strider using responsibly sourced paper - with a high recycled content, and/or environmental accreditation such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

We should encourage members to recycle Striders they no longer want, and ensure all surplus striders are recycled.

4. Challenge Walk applications

We should encourage those applying for entry to LDWA challenge walks to request electronic (e-mail) confirmation of entry at all times. Such electronic entrants should not be expected to bring a print out of their entry number to the event, but should instead be registered on the day of the event by name and post code. This would save an envelope, the environmental impact of return postage, and the use of a sheet of paper to printout entry confirmation per entry.

Note: We must acknowledge that not everyone in the LDWA has access to e-mail, so a self-addressed envelope/paper confirmation option should always be available.

5. Catering

The environmental impact of catering for walkers is a complex area.

There is uncertainty as to whether disposable cups/plates are more of less environmentally friendly than non-disposable crockery that has to be washed (so requiring energy to heat water). The answer can depend on the material and/or disposal method of disposable crockery, and can vary depending on the waste and recycling policies of each local authority. As a guideline however

  • Walkers should always be strongly encouraged to bring and use their own mugs throughout challenge walks
  • Caterers should strive to keep food waste to a minimum, and where a surplus might expected investigate if local charities can benefit (provided of course the surplus is hygienically acceptable)
  • Catering waste should be disposed of responsibly, and, materials (for example packaging) recycled where local authority facilities exist.
  • Locally sourced ingredients should be considered where possible.

6. Responsible sourcing

The LDWA should ensure that its merchandise and badges are responsibly sourced. In particular suppliers should be verified not to use child labour or exploit their workforce.

7. Education and Profile

We should ensure that the importance of Environmental Sustainability to the LDWA is visible to all our members, and that where appropriate we educate and enlighten our members (and our customers and suppliers). We should do this by:

  • Ensuring there is there is an Environment page on the LDWA website that is kept to date, and that is flagged and linked from the home page.
  • That we get space for an environmental article in at least one edition of Strider each year.
  • We should look to set up an LDWA environmental forum page for individuals to ask questions about environmental sustainability and make suggestions to the LDWA committee as how the LDWA footprint might be further improved.
  • Give consideration to awarding an Environmental Sustainability prize to an individual or team in the LDWA annually who have made a major contribution to improving sustainability within the LDWA.

Steph Carter: Environment Officer LDWA January 2013