Visiting Wildlife Habitat

29th February 2016
In consideration of the ever growing human population and the rapidly increasing speed the number of people on planet Earth grows, we would like to draw your attention to our impact on other species. This is not something new and has been said many times before. This is however a subject, which still does not seem to be fully understood in its complexity yet.

Wildlife habitat is affected through the increasing demands for our living, work and also leisure space requirement. And although we need to start thinking about how we can manage our requirements in all areas in a way that leaves other species with sufficient room to live and keeping the natural system balanced, I would like to address only one particular area today:
Us visiting wildlife habitat areas

It is great that we are able to visit natural environments like National parks, nature reserves and country parks. Access to these areas is allowed to varies degrees, but usually by walking on paths. The exception is Open Access Land, which has been officially declared as such by Natural England. There are two Open Access Land areas in the Sherwood Forest region (near Edwinstowe) and these are Budby South Forest and Sherwood Pines Forest. Here people can walk anywhere and dogs can roam freely around, except during the ground nesting bird season (1 Mar - 31 Jul).

Besides these rules, which were established by Natural England, there is also a Forest Code, which is a set of common sense rules, ensuring everyone will enjoy the natural environment and nobody, including the wildlife and the habitat itself, will be negatively impacted:
  • Guard against all risks of fire (don't light barbeques or fires)
  • Protect all trees, plants and wildlife
  • Leave no litter (use bins or take it home)
  • Keep dogs under control and clear up after them
  • Avoid damaging fences, buildings and signs
  • Leave things as you find them (take nothing, you find in the forest, out of it)

Our survey in the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve found that most people are responsible when they visit the forest and follow the Forest Code. However unfortunately we found that all of the rules, mentioned above, are broken and some of them on a daily basis. Over the coming year, we would like to address this through our project by
  • Raising awareness for Sherwood Forest being a wildlife habitat,
  • Working with the forest management to ensure that rules and also legal legislation like the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1985 and the Badger Act 1992 are clear to forest visitors,
  • Explaining the negative impact, individual actions may have on the wildlife, the habitat, and other forest visitors.

We hope to be able to help providing wildlife with an undisturbed habitat that encourage them to stay in natural habitat areas rather than escaping to nearby farms. It is easy to say for example that there are too many deer (1.5 million in the UK), but when you put this in perspective to the number of people (~ 64 million), dogs (~ 8 million) and even cats (~ 4 million) in the UK, you have to ask yourself "How do we define 'too many'?"

Deer is most prone to be negatively impacted by out of control dogs (meaning dogs chasing freely through the forest).and we hope that we can make a difference to the wildlife by us (the forest visitors) being less intrusive when visiting wildlife habitat, i.e. their home.

It would be great if we can work with visitors of the Sherwood Forest NNR and other natural habitats in the Sherwood Forest Regional Park to ensure that the little space we leave for wildlife is not negatively impacted through our visits to these areas.

Enjoy it, but respect it!