West Park Local Nature Reserve is not a recreation ground, the chairman of its management committee has warned.
Martyn Stenning told the management committee: “Public access to a nature reserve is always a concession, never a right, and the public of Uckfield are lucky that our nature reserves have few limitations.”
Dr Stenning said there were currently three threats to the biodiversity of West Park LNR.
- Scrub invasion of the wet meadow
- Bracken invasions; and
- Human pressures.
He said the first could be dealt with by winter coppicing and annual grazing the second by “doggedly” pulling bracken in May, June and July and the third my ensuring people and dogs “stick to the required footpaths”.
“About three-quarter of the nature reserve is free to roam, but there are areas where we need to protect nature from human and canine intrusion because West Park is a nature reserve and not a recreation ground,” he said.
Dr Stenning said he would like to see a reduction on the public pressure on the more sensitive areas.
“Over the years ‘desire’ paths have been formed away from the original plan for access, and this has led to a creeping habitat degradation,” Dr Stenning said.
He said there should be no exceptions or compromises based on personal preferences where the objective is not the preservation of wildlife.
Dr Stenning’s remarks were made at a meeting of the West Park Local Nature Reserve committee.