Cumbria Forum on Sustainability in Tourism

Countryside above Lake Windermere in Cumbria, UK

Surrounded by the lush countryside of the Lake District, it is easy to forget that climate change is a burning issue worldwide.

Yet the Cumbria Forum on Sustainable Tourism, at the Cedar Manor Hotel in Windermere, inspired Guild members that that these global issues are real and already having an impact on our lives.

Global warming is a fact

Ashley Cooper, a professional photographer, is passionate about our global environment and has spent the past eleven years travelling the world taking photographs that demonstrate the impact of global warming global warming. Vital environments are being destroyed bringing hardship to both animals and humans.

Polar bear reduced to skin and bones – credit: Ashley Cooper

Man may be able to counter the effects of global warming by moving elsewhere but animals cannot. His fascinating talk about his own experiences was illustrated by shocking images. Receding glaciers, disastrous floods, barren landscapes all result in the loss of habitats bringing suffering and death to the animals that live there.

Currently a species of animal or plant life disappears at a rate of one every three minutes. I will never forget his image of a polar bear – reduced to skin and bones.

Our biosphere is in danger

Kate Rawles enthralled us with her account of her journey through South America on Woody, a bamboo bicycle. The purpose of this super adventure – down the spine of the Andes Mountains through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina to Ushuaia in Patagonia, at the tip of the continent – was to highlight the need to protect the biodiversity of our planet.

Woody in Cordillera Blanca, Peru – credit: Kate Rawles

Biodiversity is the web of life for every living thing including insects, animals and humans. All of them are linked and inter-dependent it is a vital and precious resource that is being eroded by human intervention. In particular, deforestation and extractivism (extraction of minerals and fossil-based fuels for commercial reasons).

During her epic bike ride Kate discovered a wide range of biodiversity and nature conservation-related projects. But so much more needs to be done.

Measures are already being taken

It was appropriate that this forum was held at the excellent Cedar Manor Hotel as the owner, Jonathon Kaye and his wife Caroline had recently won the Sustainable Hotel of the Year award.

Proving that sustainability does not involve a lowering of standards. They also hold the Green Award Gold for achieving the highest standards of sustainability.

Cedar Manor Hotel in Windermere

An award that recognises the use of the latest technologies, changes in working practices and procurement of sustainable fish/meat sources from local suppliers. Andrea Nicholas, a speaker at the forum outlined the philosophy of the Green Tourism Awards.

What we can do

Clearly people are not going to stop travelling but we can start travelling more responsibly by considering the small things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. Do we need to stay in luxury hotels when agro-tourism is a comfortable and, possibly, more interesting option.

Are clean towels every day a necessity? Do we need to take the car when we could walk or take a bus? There are so many little things we can do that will help to protect our planet. As Kate Rawles pointed out, we abuse the land because we see it as a commodity, our commodity. We take what we want from it.

We should start working as a community to protect it before it is too late.

Valery Collins
By: Valery Collins Travel Writer and Photographer