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

Charles Waterton, a 19th Century naturalist, created the unique Waterton Park near Wakefield. This parkland is considered to be the world’s first nature reserve, and it has been added to Historic England’s protected register of parks and gardens.

Waterton was a visionary who recognized the importance of protecting wildlife and the connection between nature and wellbeing. To protect wildlife in the area, he implemented conservation efforts such as banning shooting and fishing on the site, creating barriers to keep out predators, and allowing part of the lake to become swampy to benefit herons and waterfowl. 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.

In addition to his conservation efforts, Waterton also planted new trees and undergrowth cover in order to enhance biodiversity. The three-mile-long boundary wall that he built around the park has been given Grade II listed status due to its historical significance.

Sarah Charlesworth, listing team leader for Northern England, praised Waterton’s pioneering efforts in creating a prototype for modern nature reserves where wildlife and humans can coexist harmoniously for mutual benefit. 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 his contributions to conservation and preservation so that future generations can continue his legacy.

By Samantha Jones

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