Update: 21st May 2020

A message from RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight

In my last update, I let you know of our gradual and phased approach to the challenging task of reopening our amazing network of nature reserves, following the change to Government guidance in England.

From the many of you who have been in touch, we know how much you are looking forward to getting back out into nature and enjoying these places. Rest assured, we are working hard to open our reserves as soon as we can. However, we will only do so when we have everything in place to keep our employees, volunteers and you – our fantastic members and supporters – safe.

As you know, nesting season is also well and truly underway. As well as being one of nature’s busiest times, it’s also when wildlife is at its most vulnerable. With reports from across our nature reserves of birds nesting on or near our usually busy paths and viewpoints, from marsh harriers to cranes, it’s vital we make sure they are safe too.

Over the past week, our teams across England have begun to return to our nature reserves to restart this crucial conservation work and wildlife monitoring – work that just couldn’t take place under lockdown restrictions. This is why, unlike managing a country park or a coastal path, we’re taking a little time to fully open safely.

A gradual reopening across England

We are also working hard to make our nature reserves safe and ready for visitors. As I’m sure you can appreciate, when you next visit the experience won’t be the same as before.

We are busy re-routing paths, marking one-way routes and building passing places where necessary, so that social distancing guidelines can be followed as easily as possible.

We’ve also taken the difficult decision to not open any hides, toilet facilities or visitor centres for the time being. While I know this will be disappointing and may make visiting difficult for some, it’s important we remain focused on keeping our nature reserves safe for people and wildlife. For now, this means staying in the great outdoors.

A number of nature reserves are to open this week, followed by a further group after the bank holiday weekend. By early June we hope the majority will be ready to receive visitors. The latest information, for this and coming weeks, will be regularly updated here. To avoid any disappointment, please check our website before visiting a reserve.

In line with Government guidelines our nature reserves in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain closed for now.

Enjoying nature safely

As many of you have told us, nature can be truly uplifting and important for our health and wellbeing. But while it is a great time to be outdoors, I would urge you not to rush out as soon as you hear your local nature reserve is open.

Nature will still be there to enjoy in a few weeks’ time and delaying your visit will help give our teams more time to focus on conservation and to get used to new and very different ways of working. It’s going to take time for all of us to adapt so please bear with us.

Of course, those of you lucky enough to live within walking distance of one of our reserves may have been enjoying the public rights of way that criss-cross the majority of them for some time. But with even the grass verges in our car parks potentially hiding skylark or meadow pipit chicks, please do tread carefully!

Thank you again for your continued support and especially your patience. It really means a great deal to all of us at the RSPB. In the meantime, stay safe, keep following all Government guidelines wherever you live, and we all look forward to welcoming you back when we can.

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best of health.