Monitoring Recreational Pressures

© Heather Davison-Smith
The Yorkshire coast can be an exciting playground. Our miles of open coastline provide bracing cliff-top walks or rockpool rambles, whilst venturing out onto the sea can offer unique viewpoints and experiences.

We are privileged to share this space with some amazing, yet sensitive, wildlife – from soaring seabirds and hoards of seals, to playful dolphins and huge whales.  We must make sure that our fun activities do not cause distress or injury to coastal wildlife, many of which are already under pressure from our changing climate and the impacts of other human activities.

What does the YMNP do?

The YMNP works with a wide variety of organisations to record and monitor the impacts of recreational activities on vulnerable wildlife.  We use this information to engage with the public through initiatives such as Operation Seabird and to develop new management measures, like voluntary codes of conduct.

Our work is currently focussed around the highly-sensitive Flamborough and Filey coast due to the presence of breeding seabirds, but we are working with partners to expand our monitoring, research and management to other sensitive marine wildlife across Yorkshire.

Find out more by clicking on the tabs, below

  • With support from volunteers and staff at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, local bird observatories and members of the public, we record recreational activities taking place around the Flamborough and Filey coast.  This helps us to understand more about how people are using our coastline.

    If an activity causes distress or injury to wildlife, we encourage people to record the incident using our online form and share it with the Police by calling 101.

    Any activity has the potential to disturb sensitive species, so it can be difficult to determine whether or not a disturbance event has occurred.  For our purposes, we record any activity which changes the natural behaviour of an animal.  For example, if a seabird on it’s nest becomes alarmed by a fast-moving vessel and flies away from the cliff face.  There are also various levels of disturbance which must be considered.  Please read the guidance attached to the recording form before making a submission.

    Once we have received the report, we will assess the information provided, add it to our database and pass it to the appropriate authority, if necessary.  When added to our records, we can look at trends over time and proactively develop management measures to limit the impacts of activities which have a high potential for disturbance.

  • The data we collect helps coastal managers to identify which activities have the most potential to disturb wildlife.  Working closely with our expert partners, we engage with user groups to raise awareness of sensitivities and explore options for codes of conduct.

    We encourage everyone to ‘know before you go’, to reduce the chances of accidentally disturbing sensitive wildlife.  Working with local user groups, we and our partners have created a number of handy guides to help you enjoy your day on the coast.  Check out our codes of conduct.

  • There are so many different active organisations and groups on the Yorkshire coast, all with varying needs and ambitions.  So it’s important to make progress through working together.

    We work closely with decision-makers, conservation bodies, user groups and law-enforcement to support our sensitive coastal and marine species.

    Through Operation Seabird we are working with partners such as the RSPCA, Police, Marine Management Organisation and others to raise awareness of wildlife disturbance issues and share best practice information.

  • We carry out research into how people use the coast, how the marine environment supports our society, and why it’s important to look after it.  This information allows us to develop new projects and initiatives, highlights any issues or concerns, and helps us to understand more about the coastline.

    Working with universities, colleges and members of the public, we’re able to collect key data on recreational activities and possible wildlife disturbances.  This information is shared with partners and helps us to understand where new management measures may be needed.

    It also helps us to see changes in activities and wildlife, over time.  This can be really important for understanding complex issues, like climate change.  It can also be used to make sure that any new activities or developments are aware of Yorkshire’s wildlife sensitivities.