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Waterton Park, a nature reserve located near Wakefield, has been added to Historic England’s protected register of parks and gardens. This parkland was created by 19th Century naturalist Charles Waterton and is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve.

Charles Waterton banned shooting and fishing on the site, created barriers to keep out predators, and implemented conservation efforts to protect wildlife in the area. The park also features a three-mile-long boundary wall that has been given Grade II listed status.

In addition to his conservation efforts, Charles Waterton planted new trees and undergrowth cover, as well as allowed part of the lake to become swampy to benefit herons and waterfowl. His work resulted in thousands of wildfowl sheltering on the lake during the winter and the observation of 123 bird species in the park over the years. Waterton also actively encouraged people to visit the park to connect with nature.

Sarah Charlesworth, listing team leader for Northern England, praised Waterton as a visionary who recognized the importance of protecting wildlife and the connection between nature and wellbeing. John Smith, chair of the Friends of Waterton’s Wall, hopes that the new protected status will bring more awareness to Waterton’s life and work on a national level. It is important to recognize Waterton’s pioneering efforts in creating a prototype for modern nature reserves where wildlife and humans can coexist harmoniously for mutual benefit.

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