A while back the UK coalition government announced the creation of the Big Society. It has been hailed as a way to give power to local communities and criticised as a way of introducing spending cuts. One potential drawback is that it could give more power to people who are intent on pushing their own financial agendas. But, what about us outdoor enthusiasts? Are there likely to be any positive or negative outcomes for hikers, climbers and mountaineers? There are certainly people out there who are not sympathetic towards walkers and climbers, and who may try to use it to hinder our activities. All is not bleak however, enter the BMC. The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has recently published an article about how it intends to embrace the Big Society for the benefit of its members and the natural environment.
The BMC and the Big Society
The BMC has over 70,000 members and 500 regular volunteers who they say already accomplish much of the type work intended to be done under the Big Society.
[Our volunteers] are involved in all areas of work, from access
and conservation to training and the technical aspects of climbing and mountaineering. Our volunteers are adept at planning and running
events around the country and are at the forefront of crag and landscape restoration projects.
Since the BMC are already active in the areas of conservation, access rights and land management, they are in a great position to deliver a cherished natural environment.
The key strength of the BMC is their large number of volunteers whose work and decisions drive the BMC, which is representative of the Big Society.
The BMC’s strength also lies in the quality of advice given to our members and the wider community (big society) on how best to engage
and respect the natural environment whilst enjoying its unique qualities. As a land owner…we have expertise in environmentally sensitive land management practices, volunteering and working in partnership with other bodies. This benefits both recreation and conservation and is increasingly called upon by private landowners, communities and recreational organisations.
The BMC intend to include everyone across our communities to work together, to combine healthy lifestyles, conserve our shared natural environment and provide training and encouragement necessary to enable everyone to participate in walking, climbing and mountaineering.
With the enthusiasm, commitment and skills of the BMC and its volunteers, the Big Society could indeed deliver benefits for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re interested in finding out more, please visit the BMC’s website.