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Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and NFU for Rutland encourage people to look after nature as lockdown eases

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the NFU for Rutland are encouraging people to look after nature and the environment around them as lockdown eases.

From yesterday (Monday, March 29), people are no longer legally required to stay at home and groups of six or two households can meet outdoors. Visiting a nature reserve seems like an ideal opportunity to connect with nature and much-missed family and friends.

However, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is concerned about a repeat of the behaviour witnessed at many of their reserves when lockdown lifted last summer. Disappointingly, the surge in people heading back outdoors in 2020 resulted in an increase in littering, vandalism, fires, illegal parking and disturbance to wildlife.

Rutland Water Nature Reserve. Photo: Leicestershire and Rutland Widlife Trust
Rutland Water Nature Reserve. Photo: Leicestershire and Rutland Widlife Trust

Paul Learoyd, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust chief executive said: “The majority of people who visit our reserves do so with care and do understand that they are protected for their wildlife. But sometimes the sheer number of visitors can lead to problems. Nature has been there for us over the last year when we’ve needed it most and now it needs our help.”

Spring is a vital time for wildlife and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is asking people when visiting nature reserves and the wider countryside to:

  • Stay on the paths
  • Take litter home
  • Don’t light fires or barbecues
  • Check in advance if dogs are allowed, and if they are allowed, keep them on a short lead to avoid disturbance to nesting birds
  • Be mindful that car parks may quickly become full, please don’t park on the verges – this damages wildlife habitat and can prevent emergency vehicles from accessing sites

Please remember to:

  • Stop and listen to the bird song
  • Breath in the fresh air
  • Enjoy the special wildlife

The nature reserves are amongst the richest places for wildlife in Lincolnshire and are home to some of the rarest species found in the county. At this time of year, wildlife is particularly vulnerable. Wildflowers are emerging and can be easily crushed underfoot. Birds are starting to nest often low to or on the ground. This makes them especially vulnerable as they can be trampled on or disturbed by inquisitive dogs. One dog sniffing a nest or one person walking off the path may not cause a problem but when this happens repeatedly it will have an impact.

For more information about dog walking and wildlife, please visit the dog walking pages of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust website.

Farmers in Rutland are also echoing the call, asking walkers, joggers and cyclists to help them ensure the beauty of the rural areas is preserved as they exercise outdoors.

Matthew Robinson, the NFU’s Leicestershire and Rutland county chairman, said: “During the pandemic when most people were stuck at home, the importance of the beautiful British countryside was brought into sharp focus, not only as a food producer but also as a place to escape the restrictions of lockdown.

“We welcome everyone who wants to explore the great outdoors but we also want to remind people that this stunning rural scenery is also a working environment, with farmers busy lambing and moving cattle to fresh pasture at this time of year, for example.

“Following simple rules like keeping to footpaths to avoid crop and wildflower damage, cleaning up dog mess and making sure your dog is on a short lead near livestock, is the easiest and most effective way of doing your bit to protect our countryside.

“If walkers, runners and cyclists stick to the Countryside Code, our rural areas can continue to be a refuge for many and a safe place to farm.”

Elsewhere, Rutland Water Nature Reserve will stay closed until after the Easter break

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