Achieving more for nature

Your land

Whether you have a small garden, 10,000 hectares of farmland or you are interested in making the development in your town better for nature there is something in this section for you.

Nature tourism

Lincolnshire attractions welcomed more than 18 million visitors generating £1.2 billion for the economy and supporting 18,688 Full Time Equivalent jobs in 2013[1] and these figures will be far higher for 2015 given the reopening of Lincoln Castle. Yet these do not represent the whole picture – visitor numbers at many natural attractions are often not counted or included in these figures despite the large numbers that visit them. For example:

  • Over 60,000 visitors to the seals at Donna Nook in November and December[2] - extending the season and offering the opportunity to create value in quieter months
  • The Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival brings 4,600 visitors to a different part of the County and is valued at over £500,000[3]. It has proved such a successful concept it is now being trialled in the south of the county
  • Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes National Nature Reserve supports over 26 Full Time Equivalent jobs and £845,000 in Gross Value Added, primarily through its 290,000 visitors per annum[4]

Many people in Lincolnshire, both conservationists and those in business or the public sector knew that a large number of visitors to the area came for its natural beauty and its wildlife but there was no comprehensive evidence to demonstrate this – or a financial value on the benefits these visitors brought.

This was one of the key reasons that the Nature Partnership began its work on nature tourism in 2015. A groundbreaking research report was undertaken and the results launched at the 2015 Nature Partnership conference. Now the Nature Partnership is working with its Partners to take forward the results of this report – including a business toolkit – to deliver more for nature and tourism and in this way the economy of Greater Lincolnshire.

However it is not all about businesses, it is also about people and achieving more for the natural environment. Lots of research has shown that regular contact with nature, particularly at a young age creates an appreciation for the natural environment. Fostering this appreciation of the natural environment is crucial to ensuring its protection and enhancement both now and in the long term. Nature tourism is one of the ways in which contact with nature can be encouraged and increased and it only helps that there are beneficial side effects for business and health.

So what is nature tourism?

There are many different meanings of the phrase 'nature tourism'. The research report defines nature tourism as: "tourism and day visitor activity where the primary or ancillary purpose is either to view wildlife in a natural setting or to engage with the natural environment in a purposive manner (including enjoying views of the natural landscape as well as observing habitats)."

So this would include visitors who have purposely set out to see some part of nature; this could be to visit a nature reserve or birdwatch or even just to enjoy a walk through the countryside.

However the research identified a wider category of tourism, and called this natural heritage tourism. This is tourism where nature is not the primary purpose but is rather the setting or place for the activity. In this way locations have been chosen because of the natural beauty or wildlife but the primary reason is to walk the dog, have a day out with the family or celebrate an occasion.

However, there are several other concepts that could be confused with nature tourism. These include green tourism, sustainable tourism and eco-tourism. According to their proper definitions all these terms are much wider and include sustainability as well as elements of nature tourism. While this is a very appropriate aim these concepts are too broad for the Nature Partnership to assess and measure currently.

[1] Lincolnshire County Council STEAM data, 2014

[2] Estimates from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

[3] Pers comm Nicki Jarvis, Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival. July 2013.

[4] ICF GHK (2013) The economic impact of Natural England National Nature Reserves: Final report to Natural England