A lasting vision
When the Duke of Norfolk agreed to establish the NNR on his land in 1957, he was keen to see wildlife protected in a way that allowed traditional land (and estuarine) uses to continue. The predecessors of SNH then worked with the Duke, the Crown Estate Commissioners, the Wildfowlers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland, local wildfowlers and conservationists to work out a plan for the Reserve that could integrate nature conservation, wildfowling, fishing and agriculture. Today this kind of integrated sustainable management has become commoner, but Caerlaverock led the way and it has worked well.
A surprising compromise
Surprisingly perhaps, wildfowling is still allowed on the Reserve, but it is strictly controlled by a permit scheme. Reserve staff check regularly to make sure that wildfowlers keep to the conditions of their permits, which include a requirement to minimise disturbance to the geese. Staff work hard to build up good relationships with the wildfowlers, who can often provide useful information about wildlife on the Reserve.
Control by law
The main means of regulating other activities on the Reserve is by bylaws, which, for example, limit vehicular access onto the mudflats. The bylaws allow wildfowling and haaf netting (catching fish as the tide ebbs with a special net), but under strict controls. In 1987, cockle picking became a problem issue on the Solway, when a massive commercial fishery, using tractors and suction vessels, replaced traditional hand harvesting. Cockle stocks soon plummeted. To help control the fishery, bylaws were introduced and the Solway Shellfish Management Association was set up. SNH permits them to manage a commercial fishery on the Reserve, but cockle harvesting is only allowed in years when stocks are sufficiently high to also ensure vital food supplies for the birds.
Last updated on Friday 4th March 2011 at 15:32 PM. Click here to comment on this page