Guiding Principles - Responsibility

It is important to strike a balance between visitor self-reliance and management intervention

The risk control matrix illustrates this principle in greater detail. The example demonstrates the complex relationships between two key guiding principles and the location or terrain of the site or property. It shows a balanced approach to management effort on sites varying from heavily developed to undeveloped.

The general premise is that as the environment becomes less developed the visitors’ self reliance, knowledge and understanding of the surroundings should increase, and with it their personal responsibility. At the same time less management action is required and/ or fewer physical safety measures are needed.

It is reasonable to expect higher levels of user self-reliance on land where no recreational facilities have been specifically provided but public access is allowed. For example, paths created by informal use in such areas will not be to the standard that visitors might reasonably expect to be maintained on a formal recreation site.

It is important to note that the diagram is only intended to illustrate the broad principles. It provides a framework within which to consider the detailed characteristics of your own site and judge the level of management intervention that is appropriate. This might vary within the site. There may be a gradual transition in the intensity and type of hazard management. Larger sites are often zoned, which can help to prioritise the focus of management effort.

The matrix is a simplification and does not cover all eventualities. For example, adverse weather conditions can make activities in easy terrain more hazardous. The nature of management intervention will be influenced by the particular characteristics of your site – for example, in its historic, landscape or conservation value.

The risk control matrix is only a framework to guide analysis, and the final balance struck will also be influenced by other guiding principles. In the examples shown, the primary focus is on how the location and terrain of the site or property influences management activity. But it can easily be adapted to take account of other important aspects of the site or property such as landscape, conservation or historical interest.

It is reasonable to expect visitors to exercise responsibility for themselves

For example, it is reasonable to expect walkers in mountains to be equipped with suitable footwear and waterproofs. It is reasonable to expect mountain bikers to wear proper safety helmets.

It is reasonable to expect visitors not to put others at risk

For example, mountain bikers should slow down when approaching walkers. Horse riders should not gallop past people with toddlers and pushchairs.

It is reasonable to expect parents, guardians and leaders to supervise people in their care

For example, stopping children rolling stones over cliff drops or supervising children near water. The result is that there may be no need to erect signs forbidding the rolling of stones, or fences to prevent access to water. Note that the parent, guardian or leader may need to be informed of unexpected or hidden risks.

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