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James Wight
Written by James Wight
Published on 11th March 2021
8 min read

We have explored a handful of impassioned campaigns and organisations of different shapes and sizes, past and present, contributing to real social and environmental change, all united in their action to build a better world.

 

There is an abundance of amazing adventure-related campaigns for environmental protection and social change. This list spotlights some of the most noteworthy for their tactics and impact. However, fifteen barely scrapes the surface. So we call on you, our community!

Please get in touch to recommend any other remarkable outdoor or adventure-related campaigns worth adding. 

1. Campaign for National Parks

The Campaign for National Parks is the only national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote all of the National Parks of England and Wales.

The organisation has produced an invaluable set of papers around involving new audiences with National Parks, detailing what has been learnt from ten years of running Mosaic projects in National Parks in England and Wales. The data and information from all the research has provided opportunities for young people and ethnic minority communities to experience more of the amazing landscapes in our National Parks. Maxwell Ayamba wrote about some of these issues in an article in our first Edition.

Campaign for National Park also has a campaign for better access and transport to and around National Parks and protection against unnecessary over-development.

 

2. Mind Over Mountains

Founded by adversity adventurer Alex Staniforth, Mind Over Mountains normally organise outdoor hiking events, restoring wellbeing naturally through life-changing therapeutic outdoor experiences.

But during lockdown, the charity has pivoted (like many) to provide a welcome resource for bringing people together to support wellbeing. From 'Gathering Spaces' to 'Base Camp Sessions' and a lockdown world map, there is something for everyone to help restore good mental health naturally.

 

3. Trash Free Trails

UK charity Trash Free Trails aims to reduce plastic pollution on our trails and wild places by 75% by 2025. Its latest campaign, Spring Trail Clean Tour, is the first of its kind: a road trip with a unique mix of #TRASHMOB trail clean-ups, rubbish rides, plastic pollution educational activities, comedy consultation games and honest and open conversations with mountain bikers about the ever-increasing amounts of litter on trails.

The tour will take place across eight UK locations between April and June this year, and Trash Free Trails is calling for all trail lovers to join them in taking positive action to tackle litter. Volunteers will not only bag and bin the trash they remove, but separate and tally what they find to produce the first ever ‘State of the Trails - Litter Report’. Nice.

Photo: Trash Free Trails

4. For Wild Places

Operating as a group of ‘sports activists’ across Australia, For Wild Places leads the running community into immediate action to protect places of environmental and cultural significance.

Initially coming together on the ancient lands of takayna to run to protect the Gondwana Rainforests from unnecessary destruction in northwestern Tasmania, the organisation is united by a desire to use members' love of trail running for good. For Wild Places ultimately aims to turn passionate outdoor people into wild-place advocates, creating lasting change among all outdoor enthusiasts, whether they are runners, hikers, mountain bikers or surfers.

Fighting for wild protection, cultural heritage and trail preservation, For Wild Places' latest campaign - Stop the Russell Vale Coal Mine Expansion on the Illawarra Escarpment - is pushing to halt a local coal mine expansion in New South Wales. The planned expansion is located in the beautiful Illawarra Escarpment, a vital green corridor connecting the southern end of the Royal National Park to Macquarie Pass National Park. As well as extensive environmental issues, local residents can no longer enjoy a simple run, ride or walk in the area without the threat of prosecution.

The Illawarra brings with it world-class trails and outlooks and enormous potential for promoting recreational activities along the Escarpment that celebrate rather than denigrate the unique local environment. There is more information and a petition to sign here, plus an ultra-running event (Gasbag Ultra) which aims to keep the Pilliga Forest wild.


5. Patagonia Action Works

The dawn of Trumpism began a process of multiple attacks on national monuments, public lands and waters. The opening up of vast US public lands for oil and gas drilling was an assault on wilderness, and Trump’s administration removed or attempted to remove protections from areas of public land equivalent to the size of Florida. 

From Bears Ears and Boundary Waters to The Red Desert, Carlsbad and the Gwich’in people in the Arctic, to name a few, Patagonia’s Action Works brilliantly pulls together the broad coalition of businesses, Native American tribes, conservation groups and concerned citizens defending these sacred lands.

To learn more or take action, sign a petition on the Protect our Public Land website and watch Protect Our Winter’s Purple Mountains and Patagonia’s Public Trust.

 

6. Save Our Rivers

Damaging hydroelectricity developments and pollution ‘runoffs’ affecting our last free-flowing rivers and wild places are increasing in size. Save Our Rivers aims to provide those who care with the information and knowledge on how to use existing legal structures to fight back. They provide the public with an effective mechanism to keep the places they value safe, as many developers’ plans go uncontested because they don't reach the public domain before it's too late.

Five past well-known campaigns include Save the Conwy and Save the Blue Heart, the latter involving founder Dan Yates, who we caught up with last year to discuss valuable lessons about mobilising the kayaking community to save Europe's rivers. Save Our Rivers believes everyone, wherever they live, should have a voice in the future of our National Parks and wild rivers. Rightly so.

Three live campaigns worth exploring are: Tumpen Dam (Austria), Heart of Kendal (Lake District) and Cwm Cynfal (Snowdonia).


7. Only One

The next decade is often dubbed the ‘decade to deliver’ for climate action. Only One aims to help rewrite the future by protecting the ocean as a means of tackling the climate crisis and building a more just, equitable planet.

But how?

Through journeys, actions, series and community campaigns, Only One is effectively a one-stop shop for ocean climate activism stories and actions.

Only One's Journeys are following some ten-year endeavours to help heal people and the planet:

  1. 30x30: Protecting at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030.
  2. Green Seas: Unlocking the power of the ocean as a climate solution.
  3. Material Change: Rethinking plastic and stopping pollution at the source.


8. Surfers Against Sewage

An influential marine-conservation charity working with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life, Surfers Against Sewage brings together and mobilises a huge network of UK ocean activists driving important policy change to ensure the voice of the ocean is heard within responses to the climate crisis. 

It is a critical year for climate action leading up to COP26 in Glasgow this November. Surfers Against Sewage’s latest campaign, Ocean and Climate Crisis, is dedicated to raising awareness of the effect climate change is having on our oceans.

Our addiction to extractive industries has accelerated an ocean climate crisis. Surfers Against Sewage is campaigning for the urgent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and the rapid embrace of nature-based solutions to reach net-zero emissions in the UK by 2030. (The current government is committed to reducing net emissions by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050.)

The campaign calls specifically for:

  1. Legislation and government policy that achieves net-zero by 2030. 
  2. Ocean rewilding to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
  3. A blue ‘bounce back’ from COVID-19, putting the ocean and all natural environments at the centre of recovery.

You can the Ocean and Climate Crisis petition here.

Surfers Against Sewage recently declared an Ocean and Climate Emergency

Photo: Surfers Against Sewage

Enjoying reading? Want to see more stories like this and help us build a more inclusive, sustainable and impactful adventure culture?

We recently launched a Patreon to help us sustain our Editions. We explain our thinking here, and you can offer support here in exchange for some sweet rewards. 100% of revenue will go directly to paying Editions contributors. We don't keep a single penny.

9. The Mountaineers Ten Essentials

Whether you are out on a day trip or venturing further afield, it’s a good habit to pack the ‘ten essentials’. Dating back to climbing courses of the 1930’s, the widely respected safety and packing system was formalised in the third edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, released in 1974, and modernised in the most recent 9th Edition, written by volunteers and reflecting the collective wisdom of hundreds of outdoor skills instructors.

The Ten Essentials are:

  1. Navigation: map, altimeter, compass, [GPS device], [PLB, satellite communicator, or satellite phone], [extra batteries or battery pack].
  2. Headlamp: plus extra batteries.
  3. Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen.
  4. First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (if required).
  5. Knife: plus repair kit.
  6. Fire: matches, lighter and tinder, or stove as appropriate.
  7. Shelter: carried at all times (can be a lightweight emergency bivy).
  8. Extra food: beyond minimum expectation.
  9. Extra water: beyond minimum expectation, or the means to purify.
  10. Extra clothes: sufficient to survive an emergency overnight.

The limerick below is worth remembering. The words in bold represent the ten essentials:

To navigate, head for the sun
With first aid and knife on the run

Bring fire and shelter
Extra food is a helper

But water and clothes weigh a ton.

 

 

10. Adventure Scientists

In its own words, Adventure Scientists provides "special ops for conservation." Since its inception in 2011, founder and National Geographic Explorer Gregg Treinish has sent thousands of volunteers on missions to collect data from remote, difficult-to-access locations for their conservation partners. Crucially, this data drives change.

How? By leveraging the passion and strong skills of the outdoor community, the organisation gathers difficult-to-obtain data from the frontlines of adventurous endeavours, providing scientists with the data they need to address critical challenges to the environment and human health. Not your typical citizen science!

Past projects include seventeen initiatives all designed for impact. Current conservation and restoration projects include timber tracking, coral reefs and wild and scenic rivers. Definitely worth volunteering if you are based in the Americas and have the skills required.

 

11. The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

If you manage to get outside and explore often, you have probably heard the phrase 'leave no trace' to summarise best practices we should follow to protect our natural spaces. 

The international environmental non-profit behind the seven principles is the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Using the power of science, education and stewardship of people and partners, Leave No Trace is on a mission to ensure a sustainable future for the outdoors and the planet, teaching people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through education and outreach rather than focusing on costly restoration programmes or access restrictions.

The easily understood framework is designed to be applied anywhere — from remote wilderness areas to local parks and even your own backyard. They are continually examined, evaluated and reshaped to keep up with threats to the outdoors and our environment:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimise campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

To request a Leave No Trace programme for your organisation, or find out more about their work, visit https://lnt.org/our-work.


12. The Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout (1932)

A national nature reserve, moorland plateau and the highest point in the Peak District at 636m, Kinder Scout offers spectacular views and some of the most challenging walks in the Peak District.

It was also the site of the 1932 Mass Trespass: an act of wilful trespass by ramblers and members of the Young Communist League, organised by Benny Rothman, in retaliation to the expulsion of the group from Bleaklow (just north of Kinder Scout).

Ramblers came together from nearby cities to peacefully protest and highlight the fact that walkers in England and Wales were denied access to areas of open country. This eventually contributed to a change in legislation allowing people to freely walk on and access land, and the formation of Britain's National Parks, with the Peak District confirmed as the first National Park on 17th April 1951. 

Despite the foundation of 14 National Parks thereafter, sadly, for outdoor enthusiasts in England, the situation on trespassing has hardly improved. A recent study confirmed that half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, a stark reminder that much of England’s beautiful outdoor spaces are for the few and not the many. 

More recently, illustrator, artist and activist Nick Hayes has deliberately trespassed to expose the elitist system of UK land ownership and written all about it in The Book of Trespass, using his trespassing escapades to not only highlight the inequitable system of UK land ownership but also encourage people to join the campaign against the move to criminalise trespass.

This segues nicely into our next campaign ...

Photo: Nick Hayes

13. Right to Roam 

The Right to Roam is an ancient custom that allows anyone to wander in open countryside, whether the land is privately or publicly owned, and has existed as a common right in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Scotland. 

However, in England, the majority of the countryside is out of bounds for most of the public. 92% of the countryside and 97% of rivers are off-limits. We are banned from setting foot on the vast majority of our wild and beautiful island because of laws of ownership that still, after all these years, fail to recognise the importance of nature to the public. By law of trespass, hundreds of thousands of acres of open space are out of bounds.  

The Right to Roam campaign argues that in a time where the need to reconnect with nature more urgently than ever, the current law (the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) must be changed, as it is not sustainable. We wholeheartedly agree. At Adventure Uncovered we strongly believe access to nature is a birthright. It is vitally important for everyone’s physical and mental health, and should be accessible for all, not a crime.

The campaign focuses on extending the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act so that it covers more of the countryside, as well as more activities (kayaking, paddle boarding, wild swimming, wild camping and not just walking), both on land and water.  It focuses on four key areas: Rivers, Woodland, Green Belt and Downland. 

If you care about the outdoors, de-criminalising trespass and reconnecting to nature, you need to get involved in this important and inspirational campaign. With a final deadline to settle the question once and for all on 1st January 2026, it is why The Ramblers are on a mission in their campaign to map old footpaths or rights of way before they are lost.

 

14. Don't Lose Your Way

During the pandemic, leading UK walking charity The Ramblers has successfully mobilised volunteers to map old footpaths or rights of way before they are lost in England and Wales, and map all footpaths in Scotland.

To date, 96,000 square miles have been searched by 3,200+ people and over 49,000 miles of potential lost paths have been found across England and Wales. The next stage is to prioritise those paths that can, and should, be saved.

Using an online mapping tool which splits England and Wales into 154,000 1km squares, volunteers have identified potential lost rights of way and started a long process to put them back on the map before the 1st January 2026 deadline.

To find your own local paths not on the definitive map and save them before it’s too late, support the campaign and get involved here.

Don't lose your way

An image of the 'Don’t Lose Your Way' online mapping tool

15. Making the Outdoors More Inclusive

We haven't recently come across a specific campaign around diversity in the outdoors, but alongside other pieces in this Edition it felt necessary to spotlight initiatives, projects and articles from three incredibly sound organisations: Our Shared Outdoors, All the Elements and Melanin Basecamp - make sure you check out their great work to help improve accessibility in the outdoors for marginalised groups.

If you know of a specific outdoors campaign that deserves a mention, please let us know and we will happily review and add it to this article.

 

Enjoying reading? Want to see more stories like this and help us build a more inclusive, sustainable and impactful adventure culture?

We recently launched a Patreon to help us sustain our Editions. We explain our thinking here, and you can offer support here in exchange for some sweet rewards. 100% of revenue will go directly to paying Editions contributors. We don't keep a single penny.