Coronavirus: latest updates

Our latest updates on Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Update: Love it and look after it

Friday 5 June

The following nine nature reserves - for various reasons - together with the Living Seas Centre, remain closed:

  • Hopyard Hay Meadow
  • Owston Meadows
  • Pearson Park Wildlife Garden
  • Potteric Carr
  • Pulfin Bog
  • Ripon City Wetlands
  • Ripon Loop
  • Spurn National Nature Reserve visitor centre
  • Whin Covert

The Wildlife Trusts appeal to people’s love of nature following last weekend’s wildfires, vandalism, littering and disturbance to wildlife

Thousands of people have enjoyed and sought solace in beautiful countryside and stunning Wildlife Trust nature reserves over the last few weeks. But these places and other attractive beauty spots have taken a battering as the lifting of some lockdown rules coincides with warmer weather leading to a surge of people outdoors.

As a result, The Wildlife Trusts – a movement of 46 nature charities across the UK – are reporting a huge increase of damage to reserves and the wildlife that lives there. Examples of issues experienced by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust include:

  • An illegal 200 person rave leading to three arrests and community volunteers collecting 25 sacks of rubbish
  •  Rock climbers disturbing cliff nesting birds
  • Reserves being used as motorbike tracks
  • Fires, destruction of benches and gates

Rachael Bice, CEO of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust says:

“It’s vital that people understand our reserves are fundamentally spaces for nature - hugely valued by both the wildlife that make them home and the communities around them. We ask that everyone considering a visit to one of our reserves makes the commitment to treat them with the respect and care these special, wild places deserve.
 
“We manage our reserves first and foremost for wildlife and we want visitors to enjoy peace, quiet and a deep connection with nature. Please stick to paths; keep dogs on leads on those reserves where they are permitted; take your litter home; respect our neighbours; and leave no trace.”

Some Wildlife Trusts are describing antisocial behaviour on site, including abuse directed towards their staff as the worst they have ever known.  The Wildlife Trusts have struggled to cope with the scale of the problems because many staff are furloughed and had little warning of the change in lockdown restrictions.

Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“The Wildlife Trusts have more nature reserves than McDonalds has restaurants in the UK, but our precious wildlife sites are bad places to hold a BBQ. These wonderful wild places are vital local havens for people to enjoy with family and friends, to walk, rest and see nature. Our natural heritage is priceless and so important for us all – for our health and happiness – but it is fragile.

“We’re appealing to everyone to love and look after it. Everyone is welcome but please respect our wild places, other visitors and people who work there.”

The Wildlife Trusts are asking everyone to love and look after wildlife and wild places by:

  • Avoid BBQs and fires
  • Take all your litter home
  • Keep dogs on leads (check whether they're allowed on-site) and pick up dog mess
  • Park considerately
  • Cafes and toilets are shut – so limit the length of your visit and stay local!
  • Avoid trampling sensitive wildflower meadows
  • Keep to easily accessible areas – cliffs provide valuable nesting sites for birds like peregrine falcons and ravens
  • Smile at our staff and volunteers – we’re here to help you enjoy your visit!

Update: nature reserves, access and parking

Friday 29 May

The Covid-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented pressure on our nature reserves, with increasing numbers of people travelling to visit them. Normally, we welcome people to these wild places, but recent visitor numbers have far surpassed the norm.

It’s vital that people understand our reserves are fundamentally spaces for nature - hugely valued by both the wildlife that make them home and the communities around them. We ask that everyone considering a visit to one of our reserves makes the commitment to treat them with the respect and care these special, wild places deserve. We would also ask you to consider whether a nature reserve is the right destination for your visit at all.
 
Birds that nest on the ground – such as skylark, lapwing and meadow pipit – are very vulnerable to disturbance at this time of year. Their nests are difficult to see and easily crushed by wandering feet. Even without the recent warm, dry weather, a nature reserve is no venue for a barbecue; a fire now would pose a massive threat to mice, voles, lizards, and again, ground nesting birds – as well as a very real risk of becoming uncontrollable.
 
We manage our reserves first and foremost for wildlife and we want visitors to enjoy peace, quiet and a deep connection with nature. Please stick to paths; keep dogs on leads on those reserves where they are permitted; take your litter home; respect our neighbours; and leave no trace.

Please assume that all of our hides and toilets remain closed. The vast majority of our nature reserves do not have carparks and your visit may be placing undue strain on our neighbours. Help to support our communities and prevent the spread of coronavirus by staying local this weekend.

The following nine nature reserves, together with the Living Seas Centre, remain closed:

  • Hopyard Hay Meadow
  • Owston Meadows
  • Pearson Park Wildlife Garden
  • Potteric Carr
  • Pulfin Bog
  • Ripon City Wetlands
  • Ripon Loop
  • Spurn National Nature Reserve visitor centre
  • Whin Covert

Update: half term

Wednesday 27 May

Please consider the pressure on our nature reserves and local communities if you’re planning a visit over the bank holiday and half term. Although 103 of our reserves remain open, please assume that facilities - hides, toilets, carparks – are closed. We manage our nature reserves first and foremost for wildlife, some of which is sensitive to disturbance – please respect the animals and plants that make our reserves special. We want our visitors to enjoy peace, quiet and a deep connection with nature. Please stick to paths; keep dogs on leads on those reserves where they are permitted; take your litter home; and leave no trace.

Your visit may also put pressure on the communities that surround our reserves. Many of these are small villages and are not adapted to cope with the unprecedented volume of visitors they are receiving, so we also ask you please to respect our neighbours.

The following nine nature reserves, together with the Living Seas Centre, remain closed:

  • Hopyard Hay Meadow
  • Owston Meadows
  • Pearson Park WIldlife Garden
  • Potteric Carr
  • Pulfin Bog
  • Ripon City Wetlands
  • Ripon Loop
  • Spurn National Nature Reserve visitor centre
  • Whin Covert

Update: bank holiday and half term

22 May

Please consider the pressure on our nature reserves and local communities if you’re planning a visit over the bank holiday and half term. Although 104 of our reserves remain open, please assume that facilities - hides, toilets, carparks – are closed. We manage our nature reserves first and foremost for wildlife, some of which is sensitive to disturbance – please respect the animals and plants that make our reserves special. Your visit may also put pressure on the communities that surround our reserves. Many of these are small villages and are not adapted to cope with the unprecedented volume of visitors they are receiving, so we also ask you please to respect our neighbours.

We remain cautious about the risk the virus poses to communities and are therefore not encouraging travel to our nature reserves outside of the local area. If you are visiting a local nature reserve for your daily dose of outdoor time, then please remember other people as well as the wildlife. Adhering to guidelines around social distancing will make your visit a safer, more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Please close all gates behind you; on sites where dogs are permitted, please ensure they are on a short lead; and take any litter home.

In addition, because of furlough, many reserves have not been maintained to our usual high standard and some footpaths may be inaccessible. We are working hard to address these issues: for the sake of our staff, our visitors and the wildlife, it is important we do this safely rather than swiftly.

The following eight nature reserves, together with the Living Seas Centre, remain closed:

  • Hopyard Hay Meadow
  • Owston Meadows
  • Potteric Carr
  • Pulfin Bog
  • Ripon City Wetlands
  • Ripon Loop
  • Spurn National Nature Reserve visitor centre
  • Whin Covert

 

Update: reserve facilities

Friday 15 May

Only 8 of our 112 nature reserves are closed (see below). 104 reserves remain open; unless you have local knowledge, please assume that facilities - hides, toilets, carparks – are closed. In addition, because of furlough, many reserves have not been maintained to our usual high standard and some footpaths may be inaccessible. We are working hard to address these issues: for the sake of our staff, our visitors and the wildlife, it is important we do this safely rather than swiftly.

We remain cautious about the risk the virus poses to communities and are therefore not encouraging travel to our nature reserves outside of the local area. If you are visiting a local nature reserve for your daily dose of outdoor time, then please remember other people as well as the wildlife. Adhering to guidelines around social distancing will make your visit a safer, more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Please close all gates behind you; on sites where dogs are permitted, please ensure they are on a short lead; and take any litter home.

Update: visiting our nature reserves

Tuesday 13 May

After the easing of lockdown restrictions, please be aware that the following eight nature reserves, together with the Living Seas Centre, remain closed:

  • Hopyard Hay Meadow
  • Owston Meadows
  • Potteric Carr
  • Pulfin Bog
  • Ripon City Wetlands
  • Ripon Loop
  • Spurn National Nature Reserve
  • Whin Covert

We are working hard to re-open them; for the sake of our staff, our visitors and the wildlife, it is important we do this safely rather than swiftly.

All  of our 103 other reserves remain open, but facilities on many – hides, toilets, carparks – are not. In addition, because of furlough, many reserves have not been maintained to our usual high standard and some footpaths may be inaccessible. Again, we are working hard to address these issues safely rather than swiftly.

If you are visiting a local nature reserve for your daily dose of outdoor time, then please remember other people as well as the wildlife. Adhering to guidelines around social distancing will make your visit a safer, more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Please close all gates behind you; on sites where dogs are permitted, please ensure they are on a short lead; and take any litter home. We remain cautious about the risk the virus poses to communities and are therefore not encouraging travel to our nature reserves outside of the local area.

Although our visitor centres are not open, our online shop has re-opened. We hope this will go some way to helping you continue shopping with us as a way to show your support. Thank you for your patience and continued support.

Please email any questions about our response to Coronavirus to communications@ywt.org.uk. Current circumstances mean that response time is 20 working days.

 

Update: visiting our nature reserves

Monday 11 May

In response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and in line with previous Government guidance to encourage people to stay at home, we made the difficult decision to discourage access to our nature reserves. Where possible, we also closed gates, car parks and visitor facilities to prevent the spread of the virus - including at the visitor centre at Potteric Carr nature reserve in Doncaster, the Discovery Centre at Spurn National Nature Reserve, the Living Seas Centre at South Landing in Flamborough and at Stirley Community Farm in Huddersfield.

Following the Government’s announcement last night, which encourages an increase in the use of local green spaces and the enjoyment of nature, we must be sure that visitors and staff can return to our nature reserves safely and in line with government guidance. Re-opening visitor facilities will not be easy or simple and will take time to resource, this is because:

  • The health and wellbeing of our employees, volunteers and visitors at our nature reserves is our paramount concern
  • We have to make sure the wildlife living on our reserves is not adversely impacted. With reports of rare species nesting on and near access ways and paths, we need to ensure that wildlife is safe - this may mean restrictions to certain areas will be extended, even when more general access is permitted.

Today, Monday May 11th 2020, there are no changes to our position following last night’s government announcement. We await more detailed guidance on how changes could be made.

Our nature reserves are places for wildlife first and foremost, so if you have been accessing a local reserve during this time, please continue to take extra care when visiting. This is an important time of year for wildlife and you can help us to keep these precious, wild places safe by causing as little disturbance as possible. Please close all gates behind you, keep your dogs on leads and take any litter home. We remain cautious about the risk the virus poses to communities and are therefore not encouraging travel to our reserves outside of your local area.

If you are going to a local nature reserve for your daily dose of outdoor time, then please remember other people as well as the wildlife. Adhering to guidelines around social distancing will make the experience a safer, more comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone.

We will continue to keep you informed about our plans, but in the meantime please continue to follow all government advice. 

We appreciate that this is a strange and difficult time for everyone and we sincerely thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Thank you for helping us to keep our nature reserves safe for Yorkshire’s wildlife and people for years to come.

Please email any questions about our response to Coronavirus to communications@ywt.org.uk. Current circumstances mean that response time is currently 20 working days - thank you for your patience.

 

Update: access on our nature reserves

Monday 4 May

As many of you are aware, we’ve made the difficult decision to discourage access to our nature reserves because of the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic.

If you are continuing to access your local nature reserve for your daily dose of outdoor time, please do so with the utmost sensitivity and care for other visitors and wildlife, and adhere to government guidelines around social distancing.

If you have any queries about our response to Coronavirus, please email communications@ywt.org.uk. We will do our best to reply as soon as we can. Present circumstances mean that response time is currently 20 working days  – thank you for your patience.

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone. We have therefore created free, family-friendly activities to bring nature to you at home, and help you stay connected with friends and family.

Update: Easter weekend

Thursday 9 April

As many of you are aware, we’ve made the difficult decision to discourage access to our nature reserves because of the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic.

If you are continuing to access your local nature reserve for your daily dose of outdoor time, please do so with the utmost sensitivity and care for other visitors and wildlife, and adhere to government guidelines around social distancing.

We appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone. We have therefore created free, family-friendly activities to bring nature to you at home, and help you stay connected with friends and family.

There's something for everyone in our Wild Easter Weekend activites, so we hope you enjoy!

Wishing you all a very happy Easter. Stay connected and stay local.

A message from our Chief Executive, Rachael Bice

Wednesday 25 March

To our valued members and supporters across Yorkshire and beyond...

In line with the latest government announcement about Coronavirus (Covid19) and the UK moving to lockdown measures, we have felt it necessary to close or restrict access to all Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserves and visitor centres for the rest of March and all of April 2020. All of our events are cancelled until the end of July 2020 - if you have already booked on to an event, we will be in touch. We are also suspending the majority of our volunteering for the time-being, as we ask that most of our staff work from home to ensure they are socially distancing.

We have made the difficult decision to discourage access to our nature reserves in order to play our part in minimising social contact in the community, while also endeavouring to ensure minimal disturbance to our beloved wild places and wildlife - especially as we approach such an important time for breeding and flowering.

Where possible, we will be closing gates and facilities at our nature reserves. However, as they are natural spaces it is not always possible to fully secure them; particularly where there are public rights of way passing through. Therefore, we encourage all of our supporters to follow a ‘stay home and stay local’ approach until further notice. This will help us to keep everyone safer by minimising risks from the virus within our communities and to our staff, as well as to our sensitive and precious wildlife populations.

We know that many of you have beautiful photographs of our nature reserves and wildlife in springtime – please consider sharing these with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter instead, and help us to keep Yorkshire inspired. By keeping safe you will be helping wildlife and people to recover and, with your continued support, our wonderful nature reserves will be there to welcome us back in a few months.

Our sincere thanks for your continued support during such a difficult and unprecedented time. We cannot do what we do to support wildlife without you, and our thoughts go out to you and to your families. We hope that the blossoming signs of spring outside your windows might provide some respite from the worry and isolation.

We hope you will understand why we have taken such exceptional action - your feedback is important to us so if you have any questions or concerns please contact us via email: info@ywt.org.uk. We will continue to update this page with our response to this crisis but, until we have been given further government guidance, please do not travel to visit our nature reserves. If you live locally to a reserve and decide to access it via a right of way, then please do it with the utmost sensitivity and care.

Covid19 is a huge challenge to us all - together, we can come through this.

Rachael Bice

Chief Executive, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Update: access on our nature reserves

Friday 3 April

Thank you to everyone who has contacted asking if our nature reserves are open or closed to visitors at the moment.

As many of you are now aware, we’ve made the difficult decision to discourage access to our nature reserves because of the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic.

Where there are public safety or security considerations on our nature reserves, we will be closing gates and visitor centres. We hope this doesn’t spoil your enjoyment of any of our nature reserves if you are accessing them locally for your own daily dose of outdoor time. All that we ask is, please visit with the utmost sensitivity and care, and adhere to current government guidelines around social distancing.

If you witness any vandalism or concerning behaviour during your visit, please report this to us immediately via info@ywt.org.uk. Please note that any necessary repairs and cleaning may not always be immediately possible as the majority of our staff are working from home to ensure social distancing.

Update: access on our nature reserves

Friday 27 March

As you are now aware, we’ve made the difficult decision to discourage access to our nature reserves because of the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic. 

Where possible, we will be closing gates and facilities at our nature reserves. However, as they are natural spaces it is not always possible to secure them; particularly where there are public rights of way passing through and wildlife needs to travel safely across our boundaries.

If you live locally to a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve and are accessing it for your daily dose of outdoor time, then please do it with the utmost sensitivity and care, and adhere to current government guidelines around social distancing.

If you witness any vandalism or concerning behaviour during your visit, please report this to us immediately via info@ywt.org.uk. Please note that any necessary repairs and cleaning may not always be immediately possible as the majority of our staff are working from home to ensure social distancing.

Thank you and stay safe, Yorkshire.