Love and Look After It!

Kent Wildlife Trust appeals to people’s love of nature following last weekend’s fires, vandalism, littering and disturbance to wildlife at their nature reserves.

Thousands of people have enjoyed and sought solace in beautiful countryside and stunning Wildlife Trust nature reserves across the country 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. These include: 

  • Devastating fires across wild areas where portable BBQs have been used 
  • Ground-nesting birds and rare plants have been disturbed and trampled by people and dogs  
  • Antisocial behaviour – including littering, using wild places as outdoor toilets and vandalism have been widely reported 

Kent Wildlife Trust has described antisocial behaviour on site, including abuse directed towards staff as the worst they have ever known.  The Trust has had to deal with serious damage to site infrastructure, bird hides on key sites like its Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. Some hides have been so badly damaged that they will need to be taken down as a result. The Trust has also seen a wildfire on its Sandwich and Pegwell Bay reserve which destroyed fragile wildlife habitat, killing hundreds of reptiles. Other incidents have included broken windows, litter, fly-tipping and people blocking roads near the reserves.  

The Trust has struggled to cope with the scale of the problems. The financial impact of the pandemic on Kent Wildlife Trust is severe. The charity is currently estimating a £600-800k loss in income and has therefore had to furlough staff and restrict the warden team whilst working very hard to continue to protect the natural heritage in these very challenging times.    

Litter

Litter on Bigbury nature reserve.

Paul Hadaway, Director of Conservation of Kent Wildlife Trust, says:     

“We want people to enjoy nature and green spaces, but our reserves are fragile places which are critical havens that provide protection for our most vulnerable wildlife.  At what is already a very tough time for us, we have sadly seen vandalism, fires, fly-tipping, littering to name a few of the issues and as a charity we pay the cost, draining the resources that should be invested in our vital conservation work to protect wildlife. Lockdown does not mean that the crisis that nature faces is on hold, wildlife is still in serious decline and needs our help and protection.”  

“We own and manage these nature reserves and as a charitable organisation we have always provided free access to the public, but we urge the public to please show respect for our nature reserves and enjoy them responsibly.”  

illegal fires

Illegal fires have been taking place on our reserves, such as this one at Sevenoaks Nature Reserve.

Kent Wildlife Trust is asking everyone to love and look after wildlife and wild places: 

  • Respect our nature reserves including bird hides 
  • Keep an eye out for important signs and adhere to the guidance 
  • 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 
  • Smile at our staff – we’re here to help you enjoy your visit! 

Kent Wildlife Trust hopes that the many people visiting the nature reserves will consider supporting the work of the Trust and recognise the value of the sites by supporting them throughbecoming members or donating to fund their vital work.