To celebrate Earth Day, here’s our pick of eco-hotels, campsites and cottages that use tourism to fund conservation, promote biodiversity and protect endangered species
Elmley nature reserve, Kent
Conservation comes first at the UK’s only family-owned and -managed national nature reserve. Elmley’s 1,335 hectares (3,300 acres) of freshwater grazing marsh, salt marsh, hay meadows and newly planted woodland on the Isle of Sheppey allow birdlife to thrive. Sightings of marsh harriers, short-eared owls and merlins are commonplace, but the success story is ground-nesting birds: 463 lapwings fledged at Elmley last year, which is 400 more than the next most successful reserve. Elmley’s owners are also on a mission to make wildlife open to all. Visitors can stay at one of six comfortable huts with mesmerising wetland views. Most guests are won over when they spot hares, butterflies and dragonflies on the two-mile drive from the nearest public road.
• Huts for two from £105 a night, lower rates for longer stays,
A disused slate quarry on the north Cornish coast is where to find this innovative back-to-nature experience. Cornish for “hideout”, Kudhva offers shelters designed to get visitors close to the wild: tree tents, eight-legged angular treehouses sleeping two, and a Danish cabin for six are scattered across the 45-acre site. Sustainability is a priority: showers are solar-powered and communal areas are built from reused materials. Kudvha was once a nature reserve and still contains diverse habitats, including a willow wood and a 12-metre waterfall. Owner Louise Middleton uses profits to gently manage the land, ensuring that low-lying plants thrive for the sake of birds and butterflies.
• Cabin for two nights from £210, kudhva.com