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JC Land and wave4


January 11, 2024


BARI Launches Free Wildlife-Friendly Watersports Sessions Across Poole Harbour.  

The Bird and Recreation Initiative (BARI – pronounced Barry), is organising and hosting a series of free-to-access wildlife-friendly water sports sessions across Poole Harbour starting on 25th January from the Jazz Cafe in Sandbanks. Read all the details below: 

Running through until June, the free one-hour sessions are open to anyone and are aimed at helping people enjoy recreational water-based activities in the harbour without causing distress or disruption to the wildlife. 

Ria Loveridge, Mitigation Coordinator at BARI, explains: “Most people who enjoy watersports such as stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing, also really enjoy nature, in fact, a lot of people choose these motor-free ways to access the water because they’re kinder to wildlife. 

“What a lot of people don’t realise is just how disruptive their presence is, even if they’re quiet and think they’re being considerate. And that’s what we want to help with, we want people to enjoy the incredible natural harbour that we’re lucky enough to be able to access but without upsetting the wildlife that’s living there. 

“As one of the largest natural harbours in the world, Poole is home to an internationally important number of migratory birds who come to overwinter here from colder countries overseas. When they finally arrive here, they are exhausted. If they’ve come from Greenland, Arctic Siberia or the Scandinavian countries where many do, they could have been flying thousands of miles before they reach the UK shores. They’ve burned all their calories, and what they really need once they get here is to rest and to eat, they need to build those energy reserves back up ready for the return trip in the spring. The same epic migrations happen with our summer birds – but in reverse- where birds fly north from West Africa to breed in the harbour’. 

“As the harbour is so large, it used to be that there were several areas that the public had difficulty getting to but with the popularity of paddlesports increasing so rapidly over the last few years, these secret bird havens have been discovered and accessed by people. Our well-meaning kayakers or paddleboarders are travelling up the narrow creeks that are too small for boats and coming across birds that haven’t had much experience of humans so are much more timid and frightened of our presence than the birds we usually see.  

“If these migratory birds get scared and take flight, flushing happens. This is where the entire flock will take flight, their feeding or sleep interrupted. And in their state of flight, these birds are now burning extra calories taking them even further into a calorie deficit and putting them at very high risk of not recouping those calories or getting the rest they need.” 

BARI launched three years ago in partnership with BCP Council and funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), a planning charge introduced to developers by the Government. “Our first step with this project was to engage with all the major stakeholders; landowners, conservation groups, and leisure companies around the harbour including the RNLI, the RSPB, BCP Council, and outdoor adventure company Land & Wave. 

“These workshops were key to the success of BARI, we brought everyone together to discuss how we could safeguard the harbour’s wildlife while still allowing the public to enjoy it. We worked really hard to find that balance and took everything into account from launch sites, access points and management, to suggestions for mitigation and improving infrastructure. 

Following the workshops, it was agreed by all parties that a new map should be developed for public use to show where in the harbour people could visit and where the most wildlife sensitive areas are that need to be left undisturbed. The Paddle Power Map shows clearly where people can launch and land during specific seasons or all year round, for example, Lake Pier and Hamworthy Park can be accessed all year round while Arne Peninsula and Brownsea can only be accessed during the summer months. 

Once the Paddle Power Map was finalised, BARI worked closely with local watersports groups to help spread the word as far as possible via their customers, school groups and new instructors. One of these workshops was held earlier this year at Studland with Land & Wave, its Operations Assistant, Paul Burton, explains: “We took along 23 of our new Outdoor Instructor Trainees who were taught all about the local bird species and how we can reduce impact on migratory birds when kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing.” 

This activity caught the attention of BBC’s Countryfile’ team who included the project in its episode on Poole Harbour which aired on 3rd December. The episode saw Ria introducing the Paddle Power Map as the conclusion of a three-year environmental study to presenter Anita Rani before they all took to the boards and explored the harbour from the water with the Land & Wave team. 

“I’m a huge Countryfile fan” Paul continues “so it was a dream come true to take Anita Rani paddle boarding for the programme. My dad and I were keen ornithologists when I was younger, spending lots of time looking out for rare bird species so finding out more about these incredible birds and how we can help them has been fascinating. I recently saw a White-Tailed Eagle whilst out paddling in Poole, which was an absolutely phenomenal thing to witness. It’s testament to organisations like BARI who are helping protect these rare species.” 

“Working with BARI is a fantastic way to help promote bird conservation on a wide scale. We work with so many children and adults at Land & Wave, so we can help spread the message of responsible paddling far and wide to lots of water users.” 

With the launch of the Paddle Power Map, BARI now has a tool to share with the wider general public who are watersport enthusiasts. “That’s the idea behind these Wildlife-friendly Watersports Sessions” Ria adds “they’re free, and they’re open to anyone. In just one hour, we can teach people how to be more sustainable with their chosen watersport.  

“And the beauty of this project is, we’re not taking anything away, we’re just helping people lessen their impact on the wildlife, they can still go to the same places, just at different times. Poole Harbour is a wonderful success story, a really unique place with a lot to offer both people and wildlife. We hope that with the Paddle Power Map and the Wildlife-friendly Watersports Sessions, we can all enjoy this incredible space together.” 

The first free session is on Thursday 25th January 25th, from 1.30–3 p.m., meeting at The Jazz Café, Sandbanks. For more information or to book, contact hello@birdsofbari.org.uk. You can also follow BARI on social media, and you can download the Paddle Power Map on the BARI website www.birdsofbari.org.uk 

For more information contact lizzie@warrioragency.co.uk  

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