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

From Monday 17 May (Step 3 in the Government's Roadmap), our Nature Discovery Centres are offering:

  • Takeaway food and drinks
  • A retail shopping offer
  • Themed trail maps (unless the trail is being restored – please see below)
  • Toilets and facilities
  • Outdoor spaces will be open, including playgrounds and bird hides

Limited indoor and outdoor seating will be available at our centres, following the guidance of the rule of six or two households. To support us in the Government Test & Trace scheme, all members of your party must scan the NHS Test & Trace QR code – or give details to a member of our team whilst using our outdoor seating. We are obliged to refuse seating to anyone who does not wish to take part in the Test & Trace scheme, to ensure the safety of our visitors. Face coverings are required for indoor seating unless you are exempt.

Several of our themed nature trails are currently unavailable due to restoration and maps will not be available, please check the relevant trail page before visiting.

Strict Covid secure measures will be in place in our Nature Discovery Centres, including regular thorough cleaning of our sites. Hand sanitiser is available on arrival and social distancing and one-way systems are in place. Face coverings must be worn inside the centre if you are able, please however be mindful that some people are unable to wear face coverings. We are encouraging contactless payment where possible, but cash is still welcome.

As restrictions are eased, please continue to respect governmental guidelines, including the rule of six and socially distancing.

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.

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

  • Abberton Reservoir – Open seven days a week.
  • Abbotts Hall Farm – The site is closed to the public until further notice.
  • Bedfords Park – Open five days a week, closed on Tuesdays & Thursdays.
  • Belfairs Woods – Open seven days a week.
  • Fingringhoe Wick – Open seven days a week.
  • Hanningfield Reservoir – Open seven days a week.
  • Ingrebourne Valley – Open seven days a week.
  • The Naze – Open seven days a week.
  • Thameside - Open seven days a week.
  • Thorndon – 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 and continue to follow social distancing measures.

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

Our outdoor learning drop-off days, Nature Tots, Nature Babies, home education groups, Forest School and birthday parties are now running again at all of our Nature Discovery Centres. For a full list of upcoming events and to book your place online: www.essexwt.org.uk/events


Volunteering will be gradually reintroduced according to the Government’s Roadmap, some activities will have restrictions on numbers and all will be subject to our COVID secure guidance.

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.