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

Charles Waterton: The Pioneer of Modern Nature Reserves Added to Historic England’s Register

The historic Waterton Park, located near Wakefield, has been added to Historic England’s protected register of parks and gardens. This unique parkland was created by 19th Century naturalist Charles Waterton, who is widely believed to be the world’s first nature reserve. In his efforts to protect wildlife, Waterton implemented several conservation measures such as banning shooting and fishing on the site, creating barriers to keep out predators and allowing part of the lake to become swampy for the benefit of herons and waterfowl.

Charles Waterton’s work went beyond just protecting wildlife; he also encouraged people to visit the park to connect with nature. His pioneering efforts in this regard resulted in thousands of wildfowl sheltering on the lake during winter and over 123 bird species being observed in the park over time. 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 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. The three-mile-long boundary wall that surrounds the park has been given Grade II listed status which is a testament to its historical significance. It is important that we recognize Charles Waterton’s pioneering efforts in creating a prototype for modern nature reserves where wildlife and humans can coexist harmoniously for mutual benefit.

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