Nature reserves are ‘fragile places’

17 Jun 2020 10:28
Published by: Scott Callan

People in Lancashire are being urged to remember that nature reserves are “fragile places” that should be treated with care and consideration to protect the wildlife that lives there.

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside believes some of the vandalism and litter problems on its reserves are caused by people not realising the importance of these special areas.

And with a little more care, visitors would not spoil wild habitats that, in some cases, have taken decades to create.

Wildlife Trust campaigns manager Alan Wright said: “We have seen an increase in the number of littering and vandalism incidents on our reserves during the Coronavirus lockdown. There have even been raves, dance events where people have just selfishly left litter and caused damage.

“Some of this is down to the fact that these areas are isolated and 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 the Wildlife Trust prepares to start opening its most popular reserves in the region in the next couple of months, it is 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 environment for mammals, birds, insects and plants, allowing them to breed 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 away, 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.”

Incidents have included illegal swimming, dogs killing wildlife and lambs and people starting fires because they did not tidy up after themselves. Reports of youths encouraging dogs to chase birds in these sensitive areas have also been reported to police.

The trust is hoping that the reopening of the reserves will bring in more people with wildlife knowledge to stop these incidents.

Alan said: “Our officers and other regular visitors to our reserves will speak to people and explain why they are doing wrong and report criminal activities. As we open our gates some of these problems will be solved because our reserves will not be as isolated as during the first months of the lockdown.

“In the ideal world people who visit our reserves will think before taking actions, whether deliberate or accidental, which could damage wildlife or create dangers for human visitors, including themselves.”

If anyone sees anti-social behaviour in any wild places, they can contact the police or the Wildlife Trust.


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