Popular nature reserve 'too dangerous' for public is closed until October

Wick Golden Valley Nature Reserve
Wick Golden Valley Nature Reserve -Credit:Google Earth

A popular nature reserve has been closed for the entire summer, because it’s been deemed too dangerous for the public to go into.

So many trees have been found to be infected with ash dieback disease that the Golden Valley Nature Reserve in Wick, on the eastern edge of Bristol, has had to be temporarily closed until the autumn.

Experts have told South Gloucestershire Council and the volunteer group that run the nature reserve that the infected trees are structurally unsafe and that means it’s ‘too dangerous’ for the public to use the reserve. But because they can’t be cut down until after the summer, to protect the wildlife, it means no one can go in to the reserve until after then.

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The nature reserve is on the edge of the village of Wick, near Cadbury Heath and Warmley, and the council has advised local people that footpaths near the reserve are still open, but access to the paths through and within the reserve have been closed. The council say this will continue until autumn this year, when the infected trees will be felled.

“Wick Golden Valley nature reserve is currently closed because ash trees within the reserve are infected with ash dieback. This makes them structurally unsafe and therefore too dangerous for the public to use the reserve,” a council spokesperson confirmed. “Safety is paramount to visitors using the site as is the need to protect the unique wildlife found here.

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“Footpaths nearby will remain open, but paths through and within the reserve will be closed, check the map for details. The nature reserve is ecologically very rich, providing nesting habitat to many bird species and roosting sites to 12 of the 18 UK bat species,” he said.

Artist Andrew O'Neil, centre, with his Green Man sculpted from a dead beech tree at Wick's Golden Valley nature reserve, back in 2010. Shirley Holloway, centre right, chairwomen of South Gloucester Council was at the unveiling ceremony attended by Rob Cockle, left, head teacher of Wick Cof E Primary School and his pupils from badger, deer and fox classes. Also in the picture are Mollie Ward, back left, chair of Friends of the Nature Reserve Group, John Morris environment project officer for the council, and Nicky Fry, Wick Schools nursery nurse, right. -Credit:Bristol News & Media

“We commissioned an independent survey with landowners which identified that many of the ash trees require removal. Due to the nature of the disease and there being nationally rare and significant species in the reserve, this means the difficult decision has been taken to close the reserve until specialist felling work can be undertaken later in the year,” he added.

“The work cannot start immediately because cutting down the trees will cause significant disturbance to wildlife. Having discussed the best approach with landowners and tree and ecology advisors, the trees will be removed at the end of September to early October. This will cause the least disruption to wildlife.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding whilst we work with the landowners to protect nature,” he added.