We are closely following guidance set out by the Government, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Public Health England, as well as The Wildlife Trusts movement. We are reviewing our statement on a regular basis to ensure we are doing everything to keep our staff, volunteers and visitors safe.
Nature Discovery Centres
After the government’s announcement of a third mandatory lockdown, we are closing all Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Discovery Centres (Bedfords Park, Belfairs Woods, Ingrebourne Valley, The Naze and Thorndon) until further notice.
The centres listed above are located within council owned parks – who also run the car parks and playgrounds. Please check your local council website and check restrictions before visiting any of these sites.
Nature Discovery Parks
We understand the importance of our sites for the local community, in order to connect with nature on their daily exercise. However, we need to balance the safety of protecting our staff and visitors, therefore each site needs to be considered individually. This will be reviewed weekly and changes made accordingly.
Under governmental restrictions you are only permitted to stay within your local area, therefore please do not travel from outside your local area to visit any of our sites.
The following is in place for each of our Nature Discovery Parks:
- Abberton Reservoir – The site will be closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Thursdays-Mondays, from 9.30am-4pm. The bird hides will be closed and toilets will not be available. The Brambly Hedge Trail is closed and the outdoor playground remains closed due to ground conditions.
- Abbotts Hall Farm – closed to the public until further notice.
- Fingringhoe Wick – The site will be closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Thursdays-Mondays, from 9.30am-4pm. The bird hides will be closed and toilets will not be available.
- Hanningfield Reservoir – The site will be closed on Saturdays & Sundays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Mondays-Fridays, from 9.30am-4pm. The bird hides, toilets and The Wind in the Willows trail are closed.
- Thameside Nature Park – the nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise, 7 days a week, from 9.30am-4pm. The bird hides and toilets will be closed but the outdoor playground remains open.
Our nature reserves
Essex Wildlife Trust manages over 100 nature reserves throughout the county and we will ensure the majority of these are able to stay open to the public, to ensure the local community gains regular access to these vital green spaces. In order to help protect our visitors, we are closing all of our bird hides.
Please respect all governmental guidance – you must not travel outside of your local area to visit a site and you must stay with your household or bubble only.
If we need to close one of our nature reserves, the restrictions will be listed on their individual webpage – please check that reserve page before you visit.
Outdoor Learning events
The Trust is pausing all face-to-face outdoor learning groups, activities and events until further notice. We recognise the health and wellbeing benefits of our outdoor learning activities and will be creating virtual offers to ensure these can continue in some capacity. All virtual training and group sessions will continue as normal.
If you have booked on to one of our events, you will be contacted this week with further information.
Volunteering has been paused until further notice, to ensure the safety of our 1,500 volunteers around the county. Specific measures are in place for individual roles that involve animal welfare.
Can you help?
This last year has been incredibly challenging for us all, and the lockdown measures lead to significant income loss from our Nature Discovery Centres and the cancellation of our fundraising events.
But sadly this year has been hard on our wildlife too and we are determined to help our wildlife recover. If every garden and open space was wilder and better connected, with shelter, food and water, animals like our hedgehogs would stand a better chance of survival.
Please consider helping the Trust make a real difference to wildlife this winter by donating to our Wild Appeal. All money raised will help Essex Wildlife Trust increase its work to protect wildlife and wild places throughout the county and ensure our urban environments become wilder.
Every donation, big or small, will make a huge difference. If you are not already a member and want to join us, our thanks in advance.
Doing your bit at home
The natural world continues to need our help now more than ever, so if you would like to turn your garden into a mini nature reserve you can find endless ideas here. We need to connect up our gardens and create wildlife corridors for species to thrive in our county.
You can sign-up to our Wild News for regular advice, tips, inspiring stories or news from the Trust, straight to your inbox. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok), or explore our website. Watch over 250 videos we produced this spring to bring you nature and wildlife themed content every day – catch up on WildlifeTV on YouTube. The Trust also launched a podcast - catch up on The Wildlife Explorer on Spotify, iTunes or Anchor.
A special thanks
We are incredibly thankful for your ongoing support, patience and understanding. In particular we are grateful to our members and those who have donated to Essex Wildlife Trust to allow us to continue protecting wildlife and work toward creating a Wilder Essex.
Stay safe and stay wild.