John Muir Award in CumbriaPublished: 6th August 2019
Graham Watson, John Muir Award Cumbria manager, highlights how the environmental award scheme continues to play a major role in the area
The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places throughout the UK. Here in Cumbria, where the Award has been active since 2004, activities include schools, both local and on residential visits, exploring the area and getting involved in caring for the Lake District National Park.
Participants tackle all sorts of tasks, including clearing footpath drains, removing invasive species, picking up litter and undertaking survey work.
Although the focus is set by teachers and outdoor leaders for their own groups, we inform and train leaders about local themes for them to incorporate. For example, we encourage them to consider what’s special about the landscape and the National Park, as well as the benefits of wild places for people and nature to thrive together – a theme that is really valued by those working with health challenges.
We’re currently involved in a project that highlights the role played by commons not just in terms of supporting traditional ‘commoning’, but also their capacity to increase biodiversity, water quality, flood resilience and carbon capture to mitigate against climate change.
As part of this, Patterdale School visited Glenridding Common to explore the area’s biodiversity and to survey peat bogs and their vegetation. Similarly, we are training local outdoor centre instructors, raising awareness of the shared stewardship of the common, considering the perspectives of graziers, landowners, managers and public recreation.
We are very proud of what is now a long association with Cumbria and our ongoing partnership with the Lake District National Park Authority. Today, around 3,000 people achieve their John Muir Award through this partnership every year, with each spending four days or more enjoying, understanding and caring for nature.
Such involvement often has a profound effect on participants – and particularly for those people who rarely have an opportunity to spend time in such places.
Photo credit: Outward Bound Trust