Adventure landscapes - Cheddar Climbing and Conflict
This section explores some of the potential conflicts between different users of the limestone landscape and how these might be resolved.
Physical & human processes
Why does Cheddar Gorge need to be managed?
Cheddar is a spectacular and unique environment and one which is protected by legislation. Evidence of prehistoric occupation has resulted in the site becoming a Scheduled Ancient Monument whilst the inner caves are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The caves are also home to Greater and Lesser Horseshoe Bats; one of Britain's more endangered mammals whose habitats are threatened by human activity. The environment provides a number of habitats ranging from caves to cliffs and grassland each with their own species. One problem requiring management is the growth of invasive species.
During the summer months the local population (around 5,000) is matched by the visitors, some 5,000 a day who may arrive in the area in 2,000 cars. Many are found in the lower gorge area but those venturing into the more vulnerable upper gorge may be responsible for footpath erosion and damage caused when parking cars. Large visitor numbers to the area often results in increased litter, theft from cars and vandalism. The cliffs provide ideal climbing adding to the danger of rockfalls.
Look at this image of base jumping
Base jumping is a sport involving the use of a parachute to jump from fixed objects.
"BASE" is stands for the four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump:
Look at some more BASE jumping images in the slideshow below. Discuss the issues with BASE jumping in Cheddar Gorge.
Image credits: base jumping: Doug Blane (shared under a creative commons license and can be republished but must leave credit in place http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en-us)
From what you know about the formation and physcial geography of Cheddar Gorge, why do you think it is an attractive place for people wanting to go BASE jumping?
Work in pairs to complete a conflict matrix (using the document available above) to identify where the management issues lie.
Have a look at the slideshow below which shows different users and uses of Cheddar Gorge.
Discuss ways in which conflict between these groups might be prevented. The discussion could result in a list of management strategies.
If you have time use Google Maps to create a sketch map locating possible conflict hotspots - such as beneath the highest cliffs.
Come up with a code of conduct for one named Cheddar user group.
Choose from one of the following groups: Climbers, cavers, base jumpers, bird watchers, walker, car drivers.
Draw up a code of conduct for your chosen group, then discuss as a class how the code of conducts might differ for each group.
One example from a suggested climbers' code of conduct:
- Be aware of your impact on the fragile natural environment and avoid plants and lichens from the rock face
- When travelling to the gorge keep car usage down by car sharing with friends or family or using public transport