Following a well-attended BMC conference on 9 October which explored the benefits, complexities and issues of charity and challenge events, the BMC is now finalising its new guidance for large groups and challenge events.
Update (18th Dec 2014): Copies of most of the presentations are now available by clicking on the links below.
Over 70 delegates attended the conference including representatives from the outdoor and charity sectors as well as land owners and managers. Lively and informative discussions covered issues such as how to promote good practice amongst smaller groups, payback schemes to help off-set environmental impacts and the need for a national coherent strategy to maintain and protect our upland paths.
The conference heard many interesting presentations (click on links to view presentations):
Charities, fundraising & challenge events – Daniel Flusky, Institute of Fundraising
Small provider, big commitment: promoting & supporting best practice on the ground – Kate Worthington, RAW Adventures
Challenge events – considerations & benefits from an OMM perspective – Stuart Hamilton, OMM
Proactive approaches to three peaks management in Wasdale – Graham Standring, Lake District National Park Authority and Sarah Medcalf, National Trust
Getting a grip on the litter - a charity's perspective – John Harold, Snowdonia Society
The Three Peaks Project: funding the maintenance of a challenge route in the Yorkshire Dales – Mark Allum, Yorkshire Dales National Park
The wider cost implications of challenge events on the mountain network – Tanya Oliver, Fix the Fells
Nick Kurth, Chairman of the BMC Access Management Group (AMG), said “The historical position of the BMC was too dismissive of these types of events. Our stance now acknowledges that there is an enthusiasm for challenge events and how the BMC can best help the situation. An appropriate focus is considering individuals’ conduct on the hills – ensuring that our fantastic hills are preserved, events are run safely and the impact on the local population is minimised.'
Delegates were asked to take a close look at the draft BMC guidance on challenge events and to provide constructive feedback to help make it as inclusive and accessible as possible. The BMC has a working group looking at this issue which will take these comments on board and reshape the guidance before publication.
A broad-ranging final Q&A session included a discussion about the role of the BMC in the challenge event arena. On reflection, Dr Catherine Flitcroft said, 'It is important to recognise what the BMC can and cannot do. It is within the BMC's remit to reflect good practice concerning activities in our upland areas but, for instance, directing charities on their operations is a big step and one we can’t tackle alone.
"Similarly, the BMC as a representative body can only act as a voice for its members and has no power or role to oversee these events. We will be working with as many providers as possible to ensure they are aware of the good practices that already exist and point them towards the forthcoming BMC Green Guide to Large Groups & Challenge Events.”
The BMC will take on board the feedback from the conference and edit the draft guidance accordingly.
The BMC will develop and seek endorsement for its Green Guide to Large Groups & Challenge Events, improve liaison with the charity sector (working more closely with Charity Challenge in the first instance) and consider in more detail how we should engage with independent groups undertaking challenge events.
The BMC will explore opportunities or places where we can join up our guidance with existing advice and point charities/fundraisers to our good practice, resulting in stronger guidelines for operators to follow.
The BMC will continue to work with the organisations which attended the conference to find innovative ways to communicate good practice to smaller groups who might not be aware of the social and environmental implications.
The BMC will raise the broader issue of funding, standards, and the need for a national coherent strategy to maintain and protect our upland paths with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mountaineering.
The conference was reported on BBC Radio Cumbria and the BMC’s good practice guide is set to be published later this year.
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