Today sees the start of a huge fundraising drive as the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign seeks to raise £150,000 through crowdfunding.
A campaign partnership between the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and the UK's fifteen National Parks, Mend our Mountains is raising money to fund trail repairs on popular hills seriously affected by path erosion.
With support from celebrities like Sir Chris Bonington, Julia Bradbury and Steve Backshall, this is a follow-up to the BMC's original Mend Our Mountains campaign, which raised over £100,000 from public donations back in 2016.
Dave Turnbull, British Mountaineering Council CEO, said:
"Mend Our Mountains is the BMC's flagship initiative, our way of giving back to the mountains we love and use."
"More people out in the hills can only be a good thing – in fact, those regularly taking part in walking, climbing and mountaineering now outnumber those doing golf, tennis and rugby combined – but we do have a duty of care to these landscapes. That's why I'm extremely proud that we're supporting National Parks from Scotland to Sussex as they try to overcome the challenges they all face."
Having now set the target an ambitious ten times higher, the BMC and partners have been raising revenue through various means. Headline Sponsorship is provided by big outdoor retailers Cotswold Outdoor and Snow+Rock, and a number of outdoor organisations, businesses, charities and user groups have lined up to offer support. Around £375,000 of the £1,000,000 target has so far been achieved, but this latest crowdfunding drive is the largest single effort of the campaign, aiming to add another £150,000 to the total.
With increasing numbers of people visiting the outdoors, National Parks are arguably becoming a victim of their own success. Booming numbers mean more boots on paths, but with budgets tightened after years of government austerity there's a limited public capacity to keep up with repairs. Even as they rise up the political agenda, with possible new parks on the horizon, the UK's National Parks are struggling.
"Over time, the steady pounding of feet can blight the mountains, causing erosion scars that harm the local ecology and ruin people's enjoyment" said Carey Davies, BMC hill walking officer.
"Erosion is one of the biggest and most expensive problems to manage. In the past, in popular places like the Yorkshire Dales, some of these scars caused by countless feet have grown to up to 30 metres, motorways of damage as wide as parts of the M1."
"To manage this problem needs effective intervention, usually through the construction of paths, which help to heal the mountain landscape and protect habitats and wildlife. But they are not cheap to construct. Good quality paths can in some places cost more than £200 per metre – which adds up to a staggering third of a million pounds per mile!"
The projects are:
- Ben Vane
- Beinn a' Ghlo
- Scafell Pike
- Great Ridge and Cut Gate in the Peak District
- Cadair Idris
- Bal Mawr in the Brecon Beacons
- New Forest
- South Downs Way
Everyone who makes a donation will have a choice of either giving their money to an individual project featured in the campaign or to an overall total which will be split between the primary projects. Given the big sums being sought, say the BMC, many of the projects will not go ahead if they do not reach their target. The money raised will be channelled to the different projects through the BMC's charitable arm, the Access & Conservation Trust.
The campaign will run for at least six weeks from today. Donors can choose to claim a reward in exchange for their donation, ranging from t-shirts to helicopter rides.
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