Waterton Park becomes part of heritage list as world’s first nature reserve

Charles Waterton, a 19th Century naturalist, created the beautiful Waterton Park near Wakefield. This parkland is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve and was protected by Waterton who banned shooting and fishing on the site. He also implemented conservation efforts to protect wildlife in the area. The park features a three-mile-long boundary wall that has been given Grade II listed status.

Waterton’s conservation efforts extended beyond just protecting wildlife; he also planted new trees and undergrowth cover, allowed part of the lake to become swampy to benefit herons and waterfowl, and actively encouraged people to visit the park to connect with nature. His work resulted in thousands of wildfowl sheltering on the lake during the winter and the observation of 123 bird species in the park over the years.

Sarah Charlesworth, listing team leader for Northern England, praised Waterton as a visionary who recognized the importance of protecting wildlife and the connection between nature and wellbeing. John Smith, chair of the Friends of Waterton’s Wall, hopes that the new protected status will bring more awareness to Waterton’s life and work on a national level. It is important to recognize Waterton’s pioneering efforts in creating a prototype for modern nature reserves where wildlife and humans can coexist harmoniously for mutual benefit.

By Samantha Johnson

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