Updated: Nov 27
When we set out on our CampWild project, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
As it currently stands, only 8% of the UK has a right to roam & less than 0.2% has the right to wild camp. At the last count, there were just under 3000 campsites in the UK (solely focused on providing experiences under canvas) but with over 60,000,000 acres in the UK and with now well over 60,000,000 people living in them - where do we even start in our project to revolutionise access to nature?
We live in an age of disconnection. From nature and the world outside technology, cities & materialism but also from the people that still live in and work rural landscapes. In fact, the UK is one of the worst nations in Europe for its disconnection to nature*.
This disconnection, amplified by an agenda-driven media, has bred mistrust, disrespect and a defensiveness between rural communities & the general UK public. It has become an ‘us & them’ situation now but how has that happened!? Only two generations ago, it could not have been more different. Recreation, work, community, society was grounded in the landscape & consequentially, nature.
So, again, we knew this project was never going to be easy!
To truly scale access to nature, we need to seek the people, organisations & communities who haven’t abandoned hope that everyone should have a right to access the outside. To remove themselves from the world we live in & escape to the wild.
Thankfully, there are a lot of these amazing people. Whether it is new generation farmers practicing regenerative & sustainable agriculture, old-wealth estates opening up land locked away for generations or organisations, social enterprises & individuals on crusades to conserve & safeguard our wild places for future generations. These are the people that will enable our mission to revolutionise camping.
Enter Oxygen Conservation (or OC for short). A small but rapidly growing team that were founded with the aim of tackling the climate crisis & biodiversity collapse by scaling conservation across the UK. In the simplest of terms, they want to help save and preserve our green spaces - not just in the UK but across the world.
How are they doing that? By investing directly in the acquisition of land to protect and restore natural processes. Storing carbon, providing space for nature, and delivering positive environmental and social impacts. This in turn produces a range of natural capital products and services, which OC uses to fund the acquisition and restoration of more land, allowing nature to pay to protect itself. The most positive of feedback loops but there is more to it than this.
They are not only investing in the land, they are investing in local communities, building bridges with the families & people that have spent generations learning about, benefiting from & balancing their way of life around the land.
Like OC, at CampWild we aspire to be custodians of the wild. We want to enable access but a fundamental priority is to conserve & protect. Access will be responsible, sustainable, balanced, connected & only after listening to, learning from & working closely with landowners and local communities. Anyone can & everyone should be able to escape outside, but we are conscious of the reality. We know there are many who do not know how to appreciate & behave in nature & we have a role to play in educating & teaching our community.
Over the past six months, we have been working closely with OC, visiting their estates from Dartmoor to the Highlands of Scotland, the western coast of Wales & the remote moorlands of Yorkshire. By default, the land acquired by OC is wild & it makes it perfect for the creation of Wild Spaces. Some of the hidden corners on their estates may not have seen people for decades!
Once visited, we take the time to understand a space. Should dogs be allowed? What hazards might be present? How can access follow existing tracks? Is there sensitive flora & fauna? This might mean that some spaces are only open a few weeks a year or that some we find (that leave us speechless) can’t even be unlocked at all!
"This partnership resonates deeply with our commitment to promoting a sustainable way of supporting connection with nature. We believe that if you want to inspire people to protect and improve the natural world you need to help them to be in it, to experience these wild spaces."
Rich Stockdale, Founder & CEO at OC
Each new investment in the land OC makes, we will work with them to explore the opportunities for our growing community. The team behind OC can trust that we value conservation above all else, deploying our comprehensive CampWild Code & Snap In-Snap Out system, as well as our mission to educate our community, to ensure we safeguard nature.
There are already over 20 Wild Spaces on OC estates available to explore on the CampWild platform for members, spaces that will simply blow you away & provide the most intimate experience in nature that you will be able to find. Look out for Secret Falls, Edge of a Rainforest, The Perch & High Barn - go find your next wild experience now.
Working with partners like Oxygen Conservation will mean we can, against some of the barriers we know exist in this project, make this a positive journey. Success for CampWild is our community in nature, enabling that one person who needs this escape to find & be changed by it.
Our missions intertwine & there is authentic & hugely positive energy in these two projects, energy that we hope translates into a ripple effect that does genuinely help save the world.