As much as we may want to, the summer of 2020 was a period not to forget here on the Lulworth Estate. Scenes of mass littering, images of graffiti, dramatic helicopter rescues and packed beaches headlined social media stories and gained national attention of the press. Our actions to combat this were understandably reactionary, as these unprecedented times produced unprecedented issues.
For 2021, the Lulworth Ranger team are determined for this behaviour to be addressed and for our visitors to be better informed in simple countryside manners. Thus, education was seen as a key step, and all research in behavioural change points to this approach.
After consulting with many invested parties, the following actions were put in place over a winter of preparation:
- Behaviour boards installed at each car park machine beside the tariff boards. This involved digging 50 square cut posts into the unforgiving chalk and flint bedrock.
- Welcome signs positioned at the entrance to both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door to highlight the fact our visitors are at a World Heritage Site.
- Establishing an information point at Durdle Door so visitors can be informed of the site layout, how they can get the best out of their day, and to stop BBQs making their way down to the beach.
- Signage put up for facilities. i.e. where the last toilets/bins/refreshments are located so visitors aren’t caught short.
- Increasing the presence on the beach for beachgoers to engage with someone for general enquiries e.g. how & where to dispose of their waste.
- Drone footage (and narration) put on our social media channels of access routes to both Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, thus informing guests of which beach may suit them better.
- Beach wardens handing out bin bags to visitors on the beach who may have come unprepared for taking their items away with them.
- An online petition was launched for the government to increase countryside code messaging to the wider population.
- Set up a collaborative litter group with the local volunteers, coordinated through Litter Free Coast & Sea.
- Conducting visitor surveys to ascertain our new visitors’ wants and expectations.
- Engaged with influencers to help spread our messages to a wider demographic.
Being much more on the front foot, aware of what to expect with another summer of staycation holidaymakers predicted, we have also broadened our responsiveness. Our 5am beach cleaning staff have been increased throughout the season and ‘Welcome Ambassadors’ have been employed under a coastal resilience scheme; part funded by Magnox to mitigate the environmental concerns the visitors brought upon us.
Our volunteer list now exceeds 80 people to assist when our staff are unable to cope with the litter (thankfully, at the time of writing we have not yet had to call on these excellent people).
Although with all of this implemented, we are not naïve, and realise that this will not be an overnight fix, but we are determined to slowly make a difference. Those in the Ranger team are all very passionate about the natural environment and take great pride in protecting this very special area, and thus are making sure our visitors have a fantastic experience.