An article was written recently for the ‘In Practice’ journal of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) proffering some interesting new data to show that nature reserves closer to settlements suffer greater disturbance and negative impacts.
The article, ‘Human Impacts on Nature Reserves – The Influence of Nearby Settlements’ was co-written by Fin Rylatt, Lauren Garside and Sara Robin of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and is the culmination of work analyzing reported incidents occurring on the Trust’s reserve network throughout Yorkshire. The authors categorized several types of disturbance, such as anti-social behavior incidents, harm to wildlife, littering and vehicle-related incidents (for instance unlawful access by motorbikes damaging habitats or perhaps a burnt-out car) and grouped reserve sites by their proximity to settlement
Although the data were only recorded ad hoc, the results are quite striking. Most reserves do not have a staff presence on site, this is likely to under-report the real level of incidents – other occurences may have gone unnoticed by site managers who provided the majority of the data.
The full journal is only available to subscribers from the CIEEM, so I have uploaded the individual article pdf below as I feel it warrants wider readership. It has implications for design of new housing development in relation to nearby nature reserves or Local Wildlife Sites and indeed the article goes so far as to suggest appropriate steps by developers and planners. It is well worth reading, if only to see the bar charts displaying the clear drop-off in disturbance incidents for sites more distant from human settlement. In fact the only disturbance category not to peak within 100m of proximity is vehicle-related incidents, which had highest frequency for reserves in the range 100-500m distant.
This is a new area of research, in which little work has been done, so despite the opportunist nature of the dataset there are important lessons for both Local Authorities and conservation bodies who manage sites.
To read the article ‘Human Impacts on Nature Reserves – The Influence of Nearby Settlements’ see this link InPractice97_Sep2017_RylattGarsideRobin