As the sad news of David Bellamy’s death reaches us, we at Caravan Industry & Park Operator take a look at how the environmentalist and botanist laid the foundations for a greener attitude to holidaying in the UK.
David Bellamy OBE was a regular face on TV since the late 60s, when he was interviewed after the Torrey Canyon disaster struck – an oil tanker ran aground between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and David, then an ecology lecturer at Durham University, was on hand to discuss the impact of the spillage with John Craven.
He later said of Torrey Canyon: “Many lessons were learnt and are still being learnt. It was probably the first time that words like environment and conservation were voiced on the media, later to become so commonplace.”
David Bellamy Conservation Awards
David lent his name to the environmental awards which have been given to holiday parks across the country which have worked hard on the conservation of the natural environment.
He said in 2010: “We started the awards in 1997. I went around to goodness knows how many caravan parks trying to get across the importance of natural history and biodiversity – although we didn’t call it ‘biodiversity’ in those days. At the start, we audited 100 of them, assessing their impact on the environment
“And I was amazed. There were so many super places. We soon found that people were very proud of their natural surroundings – all the wild flowers, rabbits, squirrels, even dragonflies. They were proud of having them. They were doing my job for me.
“I thought the award scheme might run for a couple of seasons – but it has been going ever since.”
Holiday parks strived to become members of this prestigious club and those who achieved their awards could proudly state that they were putting nature first in their parks – a huge draw for eco-conscious customers.
One recent award included Stonerush Lakes near Looe, which won a gold David Bellamy award for careful management of the lakes, and also of the extensive native hedging which provides habitats and food resources for wildlife. David also highlighted the large areas of high pollen-bearing wild flowers which provide vital foraging for endangered honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
David wrote many scientific papers and books and was a familiar face on TV as he appeared on both his own shows and as a guest on many more.
In later years, David’s controversial views on climate change were criticised and he said there was no scientific proof that global warming was down to human activity. David said that campaigners had exaggerated the effects of CO2. His TV career dwindled following his comments although David continued to work as a conservation champion across the globe.
Caravan Industry & Park Operator editor Victoria Galligan said: “David’s enthusiastic, eccentric image and distinctive fluffy beard made him a well-loved, recognisable and approachable person and he will be sadly missed by many who, like me, grew up watching him on TV. He was a real inspiration for viewers to think more carefully about the environment and our impact on it. He wasn’t afraid to shy away from what he believed in – although many disagreed!”
David, who died aged 86 yesterday, leaves five grown-up children and was a grandad. His wife Rosemary died last year.
Photo: Century Books