Every winter we face tough decisions over reducing access at certain reserves, and the greater frequency of adverse weather conditions as a result of climate change means that restrictions are becoming increasingly necessary for a combination of reasons.
Ancient woodlands present complex problems - waterlogged soils, standing water and deep mud all cause long term damage with continued use of paths and tracks: repeated trampling due to widening of paths causes depletion of wildflowers plus habitat loss which can take years to recover. This means that some much loved bluebell woods will be included in springtime restrictions.
Seasonal woodland maintenance is vital for all woods at some point especially the larger they are, on occasion requiring specialist contractors with heavy machinery for felling. Storm damaged trees present safety issues and in some instances, and the increasing impacts of ash dieback are already requiring the substantial removal of dead and infected trees in some places.
The Trust's Cambridgeshire Senior Reserves Manager Matt Hamilton says: “We never like having to restrict access at any nature reserves, but the impacts of climate crisis will, unfortunately and inevitably, continue to create problems looking ahead. Warmer wetter winters such as the past couple of years with unprecedented levels of intense rainfall in concentrated short amounts of time, are likely to recur. Many of our woodlands are located on impermeable heavy clay soils which become delicate when wet and prone to puddling. And we already know that the consequences of ash dieback will mean having to take drastic action at certain woodlands. We need to protect these places for wildlife and visitors, and hope that people will be sympathetic and appreciate the long term benefits.”
Know before you go
Plenty of nature reserves will remain open, those able to successfully resist more extreme conditions - please check below for all current and anticipated restrictions and plan visits accordingly.