New Countryside Code guidance to support farmers and land managers

People walking on a public footpath in the countryside

  • New guidance to support farmers and land managers released to help the public enjoy the countryside in a responsible and respectful way
  • Guidance includes advice on making rights of way more accessible, clearer signage, and how to report anti-social behaviour
  • Advice follows the newly refreshed Countryside Code for the public, over 70 years since the first booklet was published in 1951

With more people enjoying the outdoors than ever before, Natural Resources Wales and Natural England have today (8 February 2022) set out new guidance for land managers to help them ensure that visitors to the countryside can enjoy it in a responsible way.

Published under the Countryside Code family, the update provides recommendations to land managers on making rights of way accessible, creating safer environments and installing clear signage to help the public respect, protect and enjoy the countryside.

The new guidance advises farmers and land managers on how to make land more accessible, for example by adding self-closing gates instead of stiles where possible and using better signage, and how to report anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, littering, livestock worrying and other offences correctly. 

These changes will allow more people to access nature safely whilst also supporting land managers and helping to avoid damage to property, livestock and wider anti-social behaviour.

As well as advice for protecting livestock, using machinery in public spaces and the safe storage of chemicals, other key changes include:

  • Clearer guidance on keeping rights of way usable, including recommendations for cutting back vegetation and keeping public waterways clear
  • Instruction for where visitors can walk freely on open access land
  • Information about common land and understanding who has rights to use it
  • The process of reporting anti-social behaviour - criminal damage and threatening behaviour will not be tolerated, and farmers and land managers are advised to contact the police to report any such incidents
  • Advice on reporting noise disturbances and fly-tipping to the local authority
  • Guidance on managing and protecting livestock, and a reminder of responsibilities when using firearms and fencing
  • Advice for creating a safe environment, including the safe storage of bales, logs and the management of trees
  • Information on using and storing dangerous substances responsibly
Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, Clare Pillman said:
“The Countryside Code is a trusted tool that helps people enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits that nature offers while protecting the environment and respecting others.
“As the days lengthen and people enjoy more time outdoors, we hope the new advice will be helpful to land managers in maintaining an environment where it’s easy for visitors to keep to the Countryside Code.
“I would like to thank all of our partners that have contributed to the creation of the advice for land managers.”

Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have worked alongside stakeholders, including the National Farmers Union (NFU), Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Country Landowners Association (CLA), to develop advice which offers clear guidance to land managers and ensures the public can enjoy the countryside in a safe and respectful way.

Farmers' Union of Wales Policy Officer, Bernard Griffiths said:
"The FUW supports the responsible use and access of Wales’ countryside and understands the important role that access to outdoor spaces can play in maintaining good health and wellbeing, as well as its contribution to the rural economy.
“A Countryside Code which is obeyed by all visiting the countryside and supported by an advisory guidance document for landowners will help deliver the required objectives."

The new advice for land managers follows the publication of the refreshed Countryside Code last year, which was revisited following a growth in people spending time outdoors during the pandemic.

The Countryside Code now covers all green spaces, waterways, the coast and parks in urban areas. To help people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy the countryside responsibly, the public code encourages people to ‘be nice, say hello, share the space’ and reminds visitors to not litter and avoid feeding livestock, horses or wild animals.

Natural Resources Wales urges land managers in Wales to follow the updated guidance, which can be found on its website: