Boardwalk Damage and Closure at Goodwick Moor Nature Reserve

Otter

Otter

Damage to the Boardwalk

Damage to the Boardwalk

Goodwick Moor has sadly closed its ‘doors’ to the public after the main boardwalk suffered repeated damage over the years by various users. The 38 acre nature reserve of wetland nestled between the urban environments of Fishguard and Goodwick, and managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, generates no income for the Trust, but the charity has historically invested in supporting recreational access for visitors’ quiet enjoyment. Unfortunately, the Trust can no longer justify spending money to keep maintaining something that keeps being damaged.

The reserve is a popular wildlife site dominated by reedbed and wet woodland with species such as bog myrtle, Cetti’s warbler and otter also found. A boardwalk passes through the reserve and is the only access allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural world away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  The Wildlife Trust has been looking to secure funding to replace the entire boardwalk with a more robust, recycled plastic system, yet with no positive outcome to date. The cost for doing so would be over £50,000.

Last Wednesday Nathan Walton, The Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire, was shocked to find that horse riders had been using the existing timber structure, and had caused extensive damage. The damage was too great to repair quickly and costs for doing so were too high. The risk to the health and safety of members of the public was also too great to ignore and so the boardwalk had to be closed to all users.

Nathan said, “The nature reserve has sadly suffered a lot of misuse over the years through general vandalism, cyclists, small motorbikes and now horses using the boardwalk. Another real problem is dogs being off lead, running into the reedbed and fouling on the footpaths.” Signs have been erected to ask owners to keep their dogs on a lead yet these have all been ripped down.

The Wildlife Trust is hesitant to replace the boardwalk due to the regular high repair costs and impacts of disturbance by dogs and other users to local wildlife. There has been an evident decline in the number of nesting birds along with once frequent sightings of otter and wildfowl.

The Wildlife Trust's main remit is for the protection of wildlife and habitats. It is a fine balancing act in trying to encourage people onto a nature reserve to engage them with wildlife while at the same time protecting and enhancing what is there. The time has come for Goodwick Moor to close its doors to the public and allow nature time to recover once again.

Nathan also stated that “It is a shame that society seems to show little respect for the environment. We are constantly fighting a battle with different users, vandalism, litter and noise on many of our reserves. I do hope the public can understand our decision to remove the boardwalk and not replace it. There may be a day when enough money can be found to reinstall a better form of access to the reserve, although I am hesitant to promote any access unless we get the cooperation of every user visiting the site. Without the constant presence of a reserve warden, I feel this will sadly never be the case. I hope to be proved wrong.”

The reserve is not owned by the Wildlife Trust but is leased from the County Council and has been since 1979. It is hoped that this lease will continue, but current levels of investment will be prioritised in the management of habitats for wildlife rather than public access infrastructure.