RSPB Fairburn - Enhancing the Visitor Experience

RSPB Fairburn Ings is an important reserve for its diversity floodplain habitats and its position in a chain of wetlands in the Lower Aire Valley. The reserve is a SSI and a National Promotional Site and contributes significantly to the Biodiversity Action Plan targets Leeds City Council, both in terms of habitat and species and contributes to UK BAP targets for habitats and species.

The stunning crescent of the reserve that stretches in front of the visitor to Fairburn Ings, constitutes the largest area of floodplain grazing marsh in the Aire Valley.

In addition to the reserve's high profile and importance in conservation terms, it has also provided an excellent visitor experience a much used meeting facility for the local communities and a popular and enthusing educational experience for schoolchildren from throughout Yorkshire.

Recent work at the reserve at the western end, has further boosted its popularity with a complete replacement of the thirty year old boardwalks which criss-cross the reserve. The demolition of a very old hide and replacement with a much improved hide at the far western end of the reserve and the creation of more floodplain grazing marsh. The next planned phase of redevelopment over the next three years seeks to address the ageing infrastructure at the eastern side of the reserve, which is the main access and welcoming point of the reserve, near to the Visitor Centre.

The project intends to:

  • Upgrade and extend old paths which are in poor condition and have become difficult for people with pushchairs or any walking difficulties. This will allow larger numbers of people to visit the reserve by encouraging a greater 'spread', whilst preserving the calm and tranquil atmosphere.
  • Replace the Main Bay hide which, with age, has become unwelcoming and uncomfortable. This hide was strategically placed to give far reaching views over the main lake of Fairburn Ings and therefore plays a crucial part in being able to offer the best possible wildlife spectacle for visitors. There will be new interpretation panels and waymarkers installed near and in the hide.
  • Provide a significant upgrade in both the number and quality of interpretation panels at the eastern end of the reserve. This will allow the RSPB to communicate to visitors about the wildlife that can be seen and key messages about the environment, care of the environment and climate change.
  • Replace worn out flooring and lighting in the Visitor Centre (the lighting to be energy efficient).

Increased use of the visitor centre by community groups and visitors has meant a great deal of wear and tear has occurred and a further increase in usage by the public of the Visitor Centre is envisaged. As there is greater use of the Visitor Centre for meetings in the evening by local groups, efficient and clear lighting has become essential.

The redevelopment of visiting facilities are important to ensure the Society provides visitors with an enjoyable visit that will ensure that key conservation messages are conveyed, particularly with regard to the greater interest of the of the public in green matters and climate change. The provision of excellent facilities and the highest levels of customer care will assist in achieving this aim. The number and variety of wildlife, excellent facilities, ease of access and urban fringe location of Fairburn Ings combine to provide an outstanding experience for visitors with a range of interests and present opportunities for the promotion of best practice management, public affairs and media issues. The redevelopment of the facilities also allows the RSPB to offer visitors a much better and wider wildlife spectacle. Greater ease of access to a larger area of the reserve, whilst preserving the atmosphere of tranquillity and peace which is the key feature of Fairburn Ings, is especially important to many members of the public who visit the reserve from homes in the urban or semi urban environment. These visitors particularly value the calm, peace and far reaching views and the continuous movement of birds and other wildlife on the reserve.

Project Details

North & West Yorkshire
Project types
Conservation, Young People
Penny Horne
Nov 12, 2007
Mar 11, 2009
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Grant Information

FCC Community Action Fund
Grant allocated
Project cost

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