The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust are constantly reviewing the guidance about Covid-19 and taking the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of members of the public and our volunteers and staff. We will keep this page updated with the latest news about the measures we are taking to keep people safe and how these may affect you when visiting and contacting us.
Latest update: October 2020
Lots of our nature reserves are suffering the impact of increased visitor numbers and cases of antisocial behaviour. When visiting our nature reserves, please follow these guidelines.
- Absolutely no fires or BBQs
There is a high risk of fire spreading out of control. This puts the lives of people and animals at risk, devastates rare habitats, and puts unnecessary pressure on the emergency services.
Nature reserves across the country, including several of our own, have suffered from fire damage in the last few months. In dry conditions, even a small spark can be enough to cause wildfires.
Please do not start fires of any sort at any of our nature reserves.
- Park considerately
Use designated car parks. If these are full, please visit another time. Please do not park on verges or in residential areas nearby – this is both inconsiderate and dangerous.
- Take your litter home with you
Dropping litter is illegal. It is unsightly and can be a hazard to people and wildlife. Please take all litter home with you.
- Stick to paths
Paths are there to keep people and wildlife safe. Leaving paths can scare ground nesting birds, cause damage to rare plants, and increase your risk of getting ticks or Lyme disease. This applies to humans and dogs.
- Please keep your dog under close control (preferably on a lead) and pick up dog mess
Dogs that roam off the lead risk disturbing or injuring wildlife and livestock. Many birds, including rare and threatened species, have young chicks at the moment – disturbance from dogs can lead to the parents abandoning the nest, or the chicks getting killed or injured.
Leaving dog mess can cause problems for wildlife, and is unpleasant and potentially dangerous to other visitors as well as Trust staff and volunteers. Where bins are provided, please use them. Otherwise, take it home with you.
- Raise awareness and report bad behaviour
Help spread the word about the importance of our nature reserves and how everyone can help our iconic species by following these clear guidelines. If you do see evidence of wildlife crime, then please do report this to your local wildlife crime officer using the police 101 number.
Most of our nature reserves and car parks are open to the public. When there are exceptions, we will keep this page updated.
Where a reserve or car park remains closed, we have made this decision based on factors such as the safety of our visitors, potential for overcrowding in the car park, staff availability to open and close the car park, and any vulnerable wildlife at that reserve which could be impacted by an increase in visitor numbers.
If you can, please travel to our reserves on foot or by bike, practice social distancing and be respectful of the wildlife on site.
- College Lake Visitor Centre - partially open. Please find information here before planning your visit.
- Warburg Visitor Centre – the visitor centre and toilets are closed until further notice but the reserve and car park are open.
Environmental Education Centres
The following education centres re-opened for school trips in September:
- Woolley Firs Environmental Education Centre, Berks
- College Lake Environmental Education Centre, Bucks
- Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre, Oxon
We are currently able to take bookings at College Lake, Sutton Courtenay and Woolley Firs for school trips during term time in September, October and April-July (inclusive). To ensure the health and safety of BBOWT staff and volunteers, as well as all visitors to education centres we are adapting our programmes so that our delivery will take place outdoors (there will still be access for groups to toilets and a place to store bags, lunches etc. and shelter if needed).
From the Autumn term 2020 we are able to take a maximum group size of 30 children at a time for a trip. This is to reflect the Department for Education’s (June 17th) guidance on primary pupil bubbles, groups sizes and space needed to enable a socially distanced trip. This will of course be reviewed as Government guidance changes. If your school has visited before you may find that certain activities have also been changed.These changes will be discussed at the time of booking and each education centre will also provide the lead teacher/staff member with a Covid risk assessment.
Please note that we are currently unable to take school bookings at the Nature Discovery Centre and Windsor Great Park but will be reviewing this regularly.
Staying safe when you visit
When you visit, please ensure you:
- Are aware that we may not have staff on site to assist you.
- Stay on the waymarked paths. Straying from the paths is a threat to ground nesting birds, can cause damage to emerging plants and increases your risk of getting ticks or Lyme Disease. This applies to humans and dogs.
- Do not enter bird hides or use picnic tables.
- Avoid touching infrastructure such as gates, benches and railings.
- Stay safe and plan well - be aware that current capacity means that we are unable to carry out site maintenance to keep paths clear. The NHS is under a great deal of pressure and may not be able to respond to you in an emergency situation so please do not take any risks.
For more information, please see Defra's guidance on access to green spaces.
We have now started to resume activity in line with government guidance and are offering a variety of in-person and online events. These can be booked as usual via our Events page.
We are currently monitoring the situation and adapting accordingly to help protect the health and safety of members of the public and our volunteers and staff.
If you have a meeting with a member or group of BBOWT staff, please get in touch with the organiser directly. We will endeavour to arrange a virtual meeting where possible.
Most of our work parties are now running again, in a Covid secure way. Your work party organiser should be in touch with you directly to keep you informed about the latest news.
How you can help
A number of our supporters are asking what impact Covid-19 is having on our work and whether they can help.
We are doing everything we can to carry on our work protecting local wildlife. Practical conservation work will be challenging over the coming months - to comply with government guidelines, we are only carrying out essential work on our nature reserves to ensure the welfare of our livestock. Lots of planned conservation and monitoring work has simply had to be put on hold. Beyond our nature reserves, we are still working hard to get better deal for nature in the HS2 and Ox-Cam Expressway projects, and carrying on our advocacy work to secure proper protection for the natural world in the new Environment and Agriculture Bills. A connection with the natural world is more important than ever in times like these – our teams will be doing everything they can to find creative ways to help you stay in touch with nature.
We rely on the generosity our members and are so grateful for their continued support - but at the moment we have fewer opportunities to find to supporters to join us. Income for our visitor centres and other sources has completely stopped.
If you would like to make a donation to help us carry on our vital work during this difficult time, we would be incredibly grateful. You can do so here.
We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our nature reserves as soon as we can.