Following the Prime Minister’s broadcast on 23rd March 2020, it is vital that those using DWT nature reserves follow the rules of social distancing and only use these sites as part of their daily exercise allowance. If the nature reserve or car park is busy when you visit, please return another time when there are fewer people and always adhere to social distancing guidelines. We recognise that the desire to get out into nature for the benefit of our mental and physical wellbeing has never been greater, but our visitors must behave responsibly so they don’t put others at risk.
DWT centres are closed and the staff at DWT HQ and centres are homeworking, where possible. A skeleton staff will be present at HQ at Brooklands Farm, and will be undertaking social distancing. These measures have been taken to protect the volunteers, staff and friends of DWT following the rapid progression of Covid-19.
Events and volunteering days at the Trust have been put on hold until the end of May. The situation will be regularly monitored in line with advice from the Government, and DWT will update everyone on its website and social media channels.
During this unprecedented time, DWT will seek to support people facing isolation through its new social media and email campaign - #dorsetwildlifewindow, helping people find ways to connect to nature and experience its benefits. We would also love everyone to watch our barn owl webcam, which has returned for 2020. Tune in to watch our two barn owls roosting and hopefully producing some owlets in the next few weeks.
DWT will be encouraging everyone to share photos and videos of what they see out of their windows and will be sending emails out with ideas of how people can connect with nature or help wildlife during periods of isolation. Whether that’s by building a bug mansion, making a hole in your fence for hedgehogs or putting water out for the birds, every little action helps.
Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, Brian Bleese, said: “We are all worried about coronavirus and how it impacts on the lives of loved ones. The safety of our volunteers, members, supporters and staff is our priority and we have taken the decision to postpone activities and close centres until April 30th. We will review this regularly.”
He added: “We know that this is a scary time. People are worried about their loved ones and many people are facing self-isolation. Whilst we want to encourage people to get out into nature where possible, Government directives have now restricted spending time outdoors to one daily period of exercise. The government has allowed parks and some open spaces to remain open for exercise. Most of our nature reserves have public rights of way running through them and we have no authority to close rights of way. Few of our reserves have car parks but we will be shutting those that do in order to limit potential visitor numbers. If you do visit one of our nature reserves please adhere to social distancing rules, avoiding the site if there seems to be people congregating there, and returning at a quieter time. There are several reserves where it is possible to socially distance yourselves, with open spaces and a host of wildlife to enjoy.
“Even if you can only go into your garden, we would urge people to do so, as nature is proven to help boost mood and combat low morale. We will be doing all we can on our social media and via our emails to help give people ideas for activities they can do, whether they are self-isolating or are at home with their families. We are here to help in this unsettling time, so please join us.”
To find out more information about nature reserves, click here.