Grantham-based charity Woodland Trust struggling to cope with 'huge increase' in fly-tipping
The Woodland Trust, based in Grantham, says it is struggling to cope with a 'huge increase' in fly-tipping on its sites.
The charity's message comes as yet another fly-tipping incident at its Londonthorpe Woods site happened over the weekend, shocking visitors to the site.
A large mound of household waste was left strewn in the car park of the woods.
The Woodland Trust has reported an unprecedented surge in litter and fly-tipping across its woodland sites since the national lockdowns began, which poses a significant risk to nature.
The charity’s 1,000 plus sites across the UK have remained open to the public throughout the pandemic, but with more visitors has come a massive increase in litter and fly-tipping and misuse which the charity says in some cases it is struggling to control.
Woodland Trust estate manager Ian Froggatt said: “It is great that people are getting outside and visiting our sites to enjoy the benefits of nature which are so important in these difficult times, but we have seen a huge increase in mess during the lockdown periods.
“The vast majority of people visit our sites respectfully but we have seen an increase in people misusing sites, for example setting up camps, chopping down trees, fly-tipping and other damaging activities such as mountain biking off designated trails.
“We want people to continue visiting them as the country opens up but do ask they do it responsibly by following the Countryside Code – as well as taking home their litter. These are very delicate habitats, in some cases they are hundreds of years old. We need the public to join us in helping to continue to protect these environments.”
The Trust says litter and fly tipping can be a threat to nature in many ways. Firstly, lots of it does not naturally decompose and if left can persist for decades, causing changes in soil composition. Chemicals from more hazardous mess can get into water courses, bringing wide-ranging issues. Animals can suffocate in discarded plastic bags, get entangled in plastic can holders or eat balloons. Broken glass can cause serious injuries and animals can get trapped in jars. Meanwhile if people break rules by going off designated trails it can damage delicate ancient environments which take years to recover, if at all.
The Trust has spent more than £1 million cleaning up mess and fly-tipping across its woods over the last five to seven years, money which could be spent elsewhere, such as planting and protecting precious woodland environments.
The Trust asks visitors to follow the Countryside Code and Government guidelines regarding social distancing. People can report anti-social behaviour by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
For more on the Trust, go to woodlandtrust.org.uk