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

Charles Waterton, a 19th Century naturalist, created the parkland that has been added to Historic England’s protected register of parks and gardens. This parkland, located near Wakefield, is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve. Waterton took steps to protect wildlife in the area by banning shooting and fishing on the site, creating barriers to keep out predators, and implementing conservation efforts.

One of his most notable achievements was planting new trees and undergrowth cover as well as allowing part of the lake to become swampy to benefit herons and waterfowl. As a result of his work, thousands of wildfowl sheltered on the lake during the winter and over 123 bird species were observed in the park over the years. Waterton also actively encouraged people to visit the park to connect with nature.

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 Sophia Gonzalez

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