Our latest statement on Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Essex Wildlife Trust's latest statement on Covid-19.

Essex Wildlife Trust's latest statement on COVID-19.

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. 

Our plans for returning to the full range of our operations are based on the Government’s Roadmap published on 22 February 2021. We will continue to review our decisions on a regular basis to ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep our staff, volunteers and visitors safe.

Nature Discovery Centres

We have been working hard to ensure your local green spaces remain open for you to connect with nature during daily exercise.

From Monday 29 March 2021 (Step 1 of the Government’s Roadmap) we will be reopening our Nature Discovery Centres. All sites will have takeaway food and drinks, toilets, playground and outdoor spaces open. Bird hides and outdoor seating will remain closed. As restrictions are eased, please continue to respect governmental guidelines, including the rule of six and socially distancing.

Strict Covid secure measures will be in place, including regular thorough cleaning of our sites. Masks must be worn inside the centre, hand sanitiser is available on arrival and social distancing and one-way systems are in place. We are encouraging contactless payment where possible, but cash is still welcome.

From Monday 12 April (Step 2), a broader range of retail will be available, trail maps will be available to purchase and outdoor seating areas will reopen.

From Monday 17 May (Step 3), indoor seating will reopen at our Centres and bird hides will re-open.

Please note, these dates are subject to changes in circumstance and Government guidelines.

Some of our Centres 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, which include Bedfords Park, Belfairs Woods, Ingrebourne Valley, The Naze and Thorndon.

Key dates:

  • 29 March: takeaway food and drink available, toilets and playgrounds open
  • 12 April: outdoor seating and retail available, trail maps available
  • 17 May: indoor seating and bird hides available

Our Nature Discovery Centres will be open from 10am-5pm on the following days:

  • Abberton Reservoir – From Monday 29 March the site will be open seven days a week.
  • Abbotts Hall Farm – The site is closed to the public until further notice.
  • Bedfords Park – From Friday 2 April the centre will be open five days a week, closed on Tuesdays & Thursdays.
  • Belfairs Woods – From Monday 29 March the centre will be open six days a week, closed on Tuesdays.
  • Fingringhoe Wick – From Monday 29 March the site will be open five days a week, closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays.
  • Hanningfield Reservoir – From Monday 29 March the site will be open seven days a week.
  • Ingrebourne Valley – From Monday 29 March the centre will be open seven days a week.
  • The Naze – From Monday 29 March the centre will be open seven days a week.
  • Thameside - From Friday 2 April the centre will be open three days a week - Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. The park is open seven days a week.
  • Thorndon – From Monday 29 March the centre will be open seven days a week.

Our nature reserves

We manage over 100 nature reserves throughout the county, and we will continue to ensure that the majority of these 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, all bird hides are currently closed.

Please follow all Government guidance, respect the rule of six from Monday 29 March and continue to social distance.

If we need to close one of our nature reserves, the restrictions will be listed on the site’s individual webpage – please check that reserve page before you visit.

Outdoor Learning events

Forest School training has been running virtually for a number of months and will include elements of face-to-face training from 8 March 2021 (Step 1). Our outdoor learning drop-off days will recommence over the Easter holidays. From 12 April 2021 (Step 2), Nature Tots, home education groups, and Forest School will restart, as well as birthday parties. For a full list of upcoming events and to book your place online: www.essexwt.org.uk/events

Key dates:

  • 8 March: Forest School training available
  • 29 March: drop-off days available
  • 12 April: Nature Tots, home education groups, Forest School and birthday parties available


Volunteering will be gradually reintroduced according to the Government’s Roadmap. From 29 March 2021, some Centre-based volunteering and outdoor-based volunteering will resume based on specific need. Working Parties will be limited to six individuals in total.

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 by donating. All money raised helps us to sustain our work to protect wildlife and wild places throughout the county.

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, InstagramYouTube 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.