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

The World’s First Nature Reserve: Waterton Park Now Listed on England’s Protected Register of Parks and Gardens

Waterton Park, located near Wakefield, has recently been added to Historic England’s protected register of parks and gardens. The park was created by 19th Century naturalist Charles Waterton, who is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve.

Waterton banned shooting and fishing on the site, created barriers to keep out predators, and implemented conservation efforts to protect wildlife in the area. 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 planted new trees and undergrowth cover, as well as allowed part of the lake to become swampy to benefit herons and waterfowl.

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.

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