Thousands of people have enjoyed and sought solace in beautiful countryside and stunning Wildlife Trust nature reserves over the past 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.
n Devastating fires across wild areas where portable BBQs have been used;
n Ground-nesting birds and rare plants have been disturbed and trampled by people and dogs;
n Antisocial behaviour – including littering, using wild places as outdoor toilets and vandalism have been widely reported.
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.
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.