Nature reserves are fragile places. We need people to treat them with care and consideration to protect the wildlife that lives there.
We believe that some of the vandalism and litter problems we've experienced on our reserves during lockdown are caused by people not realising the importance of these special areas. With a little more care, visitors would not spoil wild habitats that, in some cases, have taken decades to create.
Our Communications Manager, Alan Wright, said:
“We have seen an increase in the number of littering and vandalism incidents on our reserves during the Coronavirus lockdown.
“Some of this is down to the fact that these areas are isolated and the people involved believe they can misbehave without being caught. However, in many cases it is just people not realising that nature reserves are not their local park – so they play games and go for a swim in areas that are clearly fenced off for wildlife.”
As we prepare to start opening our most popular nature reserves in the next couple of months, we are hoping to speak to visitors and explain how their actions can affect the wild plants and creatures that live there.
Alan said: “These are vitally important refuges for mammals, birds, insects and plants, allowing them to thrive and bring up young in ideal conditions. Of course, this means these areas are sensitive to any kind of human disturbance. They are fragile and need to be left alone and viewed from a distance.
“Climbing over a fence and wandering through grassland, for instance, could mean you are destroying hidden nests, causing fledglings to run from their parents, or destroying plants that are vital food sources for insects.
“If there is a fence, it is there for a reason, so you – or your dog – shouldn’t be running through it. Similarly, swimming in a nature reserve lake is only going to disturb the birds that live and feed there.”
Recent incidents on our nature reserves have included illegal swimming, dogs killing wildlife and lambs, and people starting fires because they did not tidy up after themselves.
We hope that the reopening of our nature reserves will bring in more people with wildlife knowledge to stop these incidents.
Alan said: “Our officers and other regular visitors will speak to people and explain what they are doing wrong, as well as report criminal activities. As we open our gates we hope some of these problems will be solved because our reserves will not be as isolated as during the first months of the lockdown.
“In an ideal world people who visit our reserves will think before taking actions, whether deliberate or accidental, which could damage wildlife or create danger for human visitors, including themselves.”
If anyone sees anti-social behaviour in any wild places they can contact the police or the Wildlife Trust.