Visitors are being urged to help preserve the ecology of the Ashton Court Estate when temporary conservation areas are set up within the city’s largest green space next week.
Sections of the plateau, located near the Clifton Lodge car park of the 850-acre country park, will be roped off during the spring to offer recovery space to some of the abundance of wildlife on the estate.
Record numbers have visited Ashton Court this winter, with many using it to take exercise during the COVID-19 lockdowns, meaning the area has had a shorter recovery time than usual.
Bristol City Council has now stepped in to introduce measures as a manager of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Parks department will rope off the plateau to protect breeding skylarks which make their nests amongst the grass. Increased visitor numbers and numbers of dogs roaming off the lead are believed to have contributed to a recent decline in their population.
The area is also home to an important population of green-winged orchids, some of which are in danger of being damaged by the impact of walkers on the area.
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Communities, said: “We recognise how important the use of Ashton Court Estate and the other parks and green spaces throughout Bristol have been in providing safe areas for people to exercise and maintain their physical and mental health during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and we want that to continue to be the case.
“The action we are taking at Ashton Court Estate is about striking a balance between maintaining these facilities and protecting the ecology within them to ensure they can be used and enjoyed by all citizens well into the future.
“Everyone can play their part in safeguarding the wildlife at Ashton Court by not entering the roped-off temporary conservation areas and sticking to the mown and surfaced paths
“We would also ask them to take any litter away with them and dispose of it safely as well as ensuring that dogs are controlled and, around the plateau, kept on a short lead to help with this conservation drive.’’
The temporary conservation sites are expected to remain in place throughout the spring, with signs being placed within the estate to make visitors aware of them.
The red deer park at Ashton Court Estate has been closed to the public since November to help with the welfare of the deer and is expected to remain so for the time being while being reviewed as lockdown eases.
Further information can be found on the Ashton Court page of the Bristol City Council website.