Leisure and Tourism

Wilder Holidays - How Holiday Businesses of All Shapes and Sizes Can Play an Important Role Protecting Wildlife

With environmental concerns becoming increasingly pressing, we all have a role to play in reducing our ecological footprint. If you run a holiday or leisure business then providing habitats for wildlife is a great way to have a positive impact on your local environment. And it’s great for business too!

Ecotourism is Growing

Ecotourism is fast on the rise. The 2019 Booking.com sustainable travel report revealed that 72% of travellers believe that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations. Within that, an increasing number of individuals and families are looking for greener holiday accommodation. Almost three-quarters (73%) of travellers said they plan to stay at least once in an eco-friendly accommodation in the year ahead and 70% of travellers said they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were initially looking for a sustainable stay or not. This is great news if you run an eco holiday business or are keen to take positive steps towards becoming more sustainable. So make sure you get your green message out there!

One way of communicating your business’s eco-credentials is to use an eco-label or certificate such as those provided by Green Tourism who run an awards certification programme for businesses who are working towards becoming more sustainable. There’s also the David Bellamy Conservation Awards scheme for UK holiday parks. The parks that take part in the scheme are all regularly assessed by a team of local wildlife experts who look at how the parks are managing their land as a haven for wildlife as well as what wider ecological steps they’re taking to make their businesses as sustainable as possible.

Providing a Habitat for Nature Can Benefit Eco Holiday Businesses

There are lots of different ways that holiday and leisure businesses can become more eco-friendly. One tangible step businesses can take is to create more habitats for local wildlife and our own experience has shown us that providing for nature can have a positive effect on business too.
Up until Autumn 2019, we owned and managed Dunsdon Farm in North Devon where we worked with the Devonshire Wildlife Trust to plant native woodland, restore rare culm grassland and create new wildflower meadows. Alongside our conservation work, we set up an eco holiday business, with 5 luxury glamping pods located in an old quarry on the farm and a 5-star holiday cottage. The ‘quarry pods’ were a great success, providing unique, family and pet-friendly accommodation and it was clear from our guests’ feedback that the abundance of wildlife on the farm was a huge factor contributing to their enjoyment of their time with us. As well as attracting bees and butterflies, the uncut meadow grass provided the ideal habitat for small mammals and further up the food chain, those that prey on them. A highlight for us, as well as our visitors, was when a pair of nesting barn owls took up residency in an old stone barn. We set up a wildlife camera in their nest box so that we could live stream the owls raising their young. Being able to watch the owl chicks was, as one guest put it, “the icing on the cake”!’

The Benefits of Wildflower Meadows

Creating wildflower meadows is something every holiday and leisure business can do to attract more wildlife and enhance their guests’ experience. Wildflower meadows and gardens are stunningly beautiful to look at and give that quintessential, romantic feel of a day out in the British countryside. Lazy picnics among the long grass and flowers, surrounded by the hum of bees, birds singing overhead – this is what a British staycation is all about!
Wildflower meadows also provide extremely important habitat for wildlife, supporting up to 40 species per square metre! This vast ecosystem includes pollinating insects that play an essential role in food production as well as many small mammals and birds. Yet shockingly, in less than a century, we’ve lost 97% of the UK’s species-rich grassland. That means a huge loss of plant diversity and a huge loss of habitat for wildlife. Holiday and leisure businesses can help reverse this trend by using their land to make meadows both big and small, providing nectar for important pollinators and more wild homes for nature.

A wildflower meadow is also much easier to maintain than a traditional garden and has the added bonus of providing colour and wildlife interest from spring until the last days of summer. They’re a great solution for eco-friendly campsites and there are now a growing number of campsites with wildflower meadows. Camping among the meadow grasses and colourful wildflowers, alive with the sounds of crickets and grasshoppers, can provide guests with a true back-to-nature, wild camping experience. You only need to keep paths and pitches mowed, letting the rest of the grass grow wild to provide much needed natural habitat. Holiday parks also provide the perfect opportunity to create more wild meadows and at the same time enhance their visitor experience. Having access to wildflower meadows increases the potential for nature-based activities like minibeast hunts and family nature trails. Hotels and B&B’s can also create their own mini-nature reserves. Including a wildflower meadow on your land with benches made from recycled timber, can make for a wonderful guest experience.

Good for Nature, Good for People, Good for Business

Wildflower meadows are a clear boon for nature and they’re good for people too. Not only are they stunningly beautiful but being among nature is really important for our well-being. A recent poll commissioned by the National Trust revealed that more than two-thirds of adults (68%) either agreed or strongly agreed that spending time noticing the nature around them has made them feel happy during lockdown. More than half the population (55 per cent) also agreed or strongly agreed that they plan to make a habit of spending as much time in nature once things go back to normal. Could this mean that more people will be looking for nature holidays and wild campsites where they can enjoy a simpler, back-to-nature experience?

Wildflower meadows are certainly a great way to boost biodiversity and increase habitat for our native wildlife. They bring nature to our doorstep and benefit people and businesses too. Join us on our meadow-making mission to create colourful, thriving habitats for both wildlife and people to enjoy.
If you’re keen to bring a buzz to your holiday business and get a wildflower meadow growing, we can help you to select the right seeds for your location and provide all the info you need to get started. We have lots of experience creating and managing our own wildflower meadows in Devon and Wales, so you’ll be in good hands with the Wildahome team.
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Get Some Advice

It’s a win-win situation for developers, residents and wildlife and one we’re very excited about. With a growing awareness of the need for individuals, companies and governments to take effective action to protect the environment, we see this as an important opportunity for different partners to work together and create sustainable, thriving communities of the future.
For more information about Wildahome’s consultancy services, contact Paul Stenning on 0333 242 0602 Or use the button below to get advice