The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, calling for the Countryside Code to be taught in schools.
It comes following reports of worrying incidents taking place in rural areas as the country emerges from the Covid-19 crisis. These include fly-tipping, littering, trespassing, country lanes being blocked, gates being left open, dogs chasing livestock and a lack of social distancing.
There has been a spike in these types of actions occurring as more people have flocked to the countryside to enjoy the hot weather since lockdown rules were eased.
CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “The countryside is a wonderful place and we want to see everybody enjoy it. But we also want them to be safe, and respect the countryside as a place of work.
“A lack of education on how to treat the countryside has left a generation without a basic understanding of what is an acceptable and indeed necessary standard of behaviour in a rural, working environment which produces food for the nation. We all have a part of to play in improving that understanding, but help in the classroom would be a great start.
“With the recent problems arising, including the tragic death of another walker attacked by cattle, we strongly believe this is the right time to get the Countryside Code into classrooms. There is an opportunity for lessons to be learned from the crisis.
“It is imperative we set standards and expectations, while promoting an ethos of respect for the countryside in schools up and down the country emphasising the impact it plays in children’s health, wellbeing and attainment.”
Furthermore, there have been reports of disposable barbecues in rural areas catching fire and destroying land and habitat. Reducing the risk of wildfires is key at this time of the year, and raising awareness is one way in which the risk can be reduced.
The Countryside Code, which applies to all parts of the countryside in England and Wales, aims to help everyone respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors.
To read the letter sent to Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, click here