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Tip of the month

Stay cool under the trees, not in the water

Plunging into cold rivers and lakes can seem tempting on a hot summer’s day, but it’s all too easy to get into difficulty. And although it may seem harmless, even a quick paddle can disturb and contaminate vital habitat for water birds, amphibians and other creatures. Help protect wildlife and keep yourself safe too by avoiding wild swimming and staying on dry land. Check out our other fun activity ideas for your woodland visit instead!

1. Stay on the paths

Protect fragile wild flowers like bluebells, and ground-nesting wildlife such as skylarks and woodcocks, by sticking to the paths. You’ll allow precious seeds to grow, prevent plants being trampled and stop the woodland floor becoming bare and muddy.

2. Keep dogs close

Protect the plants and animals that call the wood home. Keeping your dog close prevents them accidentally trampling on birds’ nests and disturbing other wildlife, livestock and visitors.

3. Take dog mess home

Dog mess is unsightly, spreads diseases to animals and people, damages the soil and it’s horrible to clean off your shoes. Keep woods clean and healthy by taking your dog’s poo home.

4. Be cool - stay fire free

Wildfires can destroy habitats, kill wildlife and put people's lives at risk. Bring a picnic to enjoy instead of lighting a fire, and leave your BBQ at home.

5. Leave sleepovers to the wildlife

Setting up camp crushes delicate plants and disturbs these woodland havens. Leave the sleepovers to the wildlife.

6. Park with consideration

Routes to our woods are used by neighbours, farmers and emergency vehicles. If there’s nowhere to park considerately, come back another time.

7. Check bike access

The ground you're cycling on is an essential part of a healthy woodland. Mountain biking in the wrong place damages this, leaving the woodland floor bare and muddy. Check for guidance before you visit. Make sure you only ride on the designated paths.

8. Swimming is for wildlife only

Water habitats are home to birds and other creatures which are an important part of the woodland ecosystem and need peace and quiet to thrive. They are damaged by people and dogs entering the water. Leave swimming to the wildlife.

9. Take your litter home

Voles, amphibians and other wildlife can get trapped in or poisoned by litter. We don’t have rangers or fairies to clear it up. Removal costs money that could be better spent on managing our woods or planting more trees. Take your litter home.

10. Woods aren't good for rock climbing

Natural crags are special places. Climbing on them erodes fragile surfaces, destroys precious habitats and can be harmful to the wildlife that shelters there. Choose to protect these crags by getting permission before you go.

11. Be considerate with dens

Little feet and eager hands can crush fragile plants and frighten fellow creatures that thrive in peace and quiet. If you’re in an ancient woodland, leave den building to the badgers and foxes. Look out for on-site guidance if you're not sure.

Funding from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund helps us protect nature and improve your visit by repairing and resurfacing paths, installing new signage and infrastructure like gates and seating at some of our England sites.

The ‘People and Woods: getting better together’ project is funded by the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

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