Recreation : Management : Voluntary management schemes

Voluntary management schemes

Volunteer programmes

Local liaison groups

Codes of practice

Interpretive maps


Successful management schemes for mSAC areas rely on the support and collaboration of the recreational users of the area. Where such support is strong, it is likely that voluntary management at site level can be effective in addressing the potential impacts arising from recreation.

Voluntary measures of management have a number of distinct advantages over their regulatory counterparts:

  • they engender greater ownership from the local recreational community which may encourage a system of self policing, both of local participants and also new participants in the area who may be unaware of the local scheme

  • they require fewer resources for enforcement making them more cost effective

  • they provide a positive two way communications link between relevant authorities, site managers and recreational participants

Voluntary methods can facilitate a valuable two way dialogue with participants, many of whom have an in-depth knowledge of the environment in which they walk, boat etc. and any existing problems in those areas. They may also offer good suggestions as to how problems can be overcome, based on their experience of the activity. By encouraging such ownership, management of the areas can be enhanced both in terms of effectiveness and cost.

Although the effectiveness of the voluntary approach is widely recognised, there are some drawbacks to its use. For example, where few user representative groups exist, or in areas with very high proportions of informal activities, it may be difficult to achieve voluntary restraint. It is also important to note that some environments may be unable to sustain a ‘wait and see’ approach to voluntary management.

The following sections outline various voluntary management techniques which can be used in mSAC areas.

Volunteer Programmes

Volunteers can play an important role in the protection of mSAC areas. They can be instrumental in supporting public education and awareness efforts. They can also contribute to increasing community participation in the process of protecting and maintaining mSAC areas. Research, monitoring, education and office and administrative tasks can all be supported through volunteer action and effectively free up valuable resources both in terms of time and money for mSAC officers and relevant authorities.

In addition, they provide a hands-on opportunity for the public to become involved in the protection and preservation of their local mSAC area.

Examples of volunteer programmes


Local Liaison Groups.

Consultation with and between users is essential for agreeing and implementing sustainable management objectives. Local liaison groups can be formed to help with the communication of information to all parties and to encourage them to participate in local management discussions.

Such liaison groups will often need to be ‘kick started’ by one group or individual who sees the potential benefits that may arise from such a consortium. Although this may require resources in terms of funding and time, the outcome can be cost effective and worthwhile.

Examples of local liaison groups


Codes of Practice

As noted in chapter 7, environmental codes of practice can be useful voluntary management techniques. If effectively developed and followed by the end user such codes can be a cost effective method for minimising the effects of recreation. The provision of such codes can also encourage recreational participants to become interested in the marine environment as well as motivate them to look after it.

It has been estimated that approximately sixty individual sports and leisure activities have codes of practice (House of Commons Environment Committee, 1994), although not all of these cover environmental issues. Most codes have been drawn up by the governing bodies to prevent or minimise damage or nuisance caused by recreational activities.

Although the quality of the code is of primary importance, the effectiveness of its communication and distribution to the target audience will determine its success. Because of limited monitoring of the efficacy of codes of practice, it is unclear how effective many of them are in addressing the key issues. It is also important to bear in mind that continued funding is required to maintain momentum during the implementation of a code.

The development of codes of conduct which cover the three important issues of conservation, amenity and safety can be cost effective. In addition, most recreational participants consider safety issues to be of the greatest importance, particularly for an activity such as diving. Codes which provide such information may therefore receive a greater readership and be ‘taken on board’ by more participants. However, the provision of too much information in a code of conduct can result in end users being unwilling to read it.

Examples of code of practice


Interpretative Maps

Maps are a useful resource for putting across complex management information in a clear and easily understandable form. However, they can be expensive to develop as interpretative tools, particularly if a licence has to be purchased from the Ordinance Survey or Hydrographical Office.

Examples of interpretive maps



Recreational participants can provide an excellent source of up to date information on the current state of the marine environment, and in particular in relation to pollution incidents or the occurrence of prohibited activities.

Examples of hotlines


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