Hospitality & Tourism

Bird and Recreation Initiative to host free wildlife-friendly watersports sessions across Poole Harbour

The Land & Wave team at their BARI workshop.

By Daniel Face [email protected]

Published: January 11, 2024 | Updated: 11th January 2024

BARI logoDorset’s Bird and Recreation Initiative (BARI) is gearing up to launch a series of free watersports sessions around Poole Harbour.

Starting on 25th January and running through to June, the one-hour sessions are specially tailored to respect local wildlife populations.

“Most people who enjoy watersports such as stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing, also really enjoy nature”, said Ria Loveridge, Mitigation Coordinator at BARI.

Ria Loveridge“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 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.”

A curlew

But with the growing popularity of paddlesports over recent years, Dorset enthusiasts have been inadvertently stumbling upon these birds and disrupting their sleeping and feeding patterns.

For BARI – who launched three years ago in partnership with BCP Council and with funding from the Community Infrastructure Levy – it’s simply a matter of education.

The group began organising workshops with landowners, conservation groups, and leisure companies around the harbour.

Everyone involved agreed that a map should be drawn up for the public to highlight wildlife sensitive areas which should be left undisturbed during certain seasons.

BARI then took their findings to other local groups like outdoor adventure firm Land & Wave and walked them through the new ‘Paddle Power Map’.

Paul BurtonPaul Burton, Operations Assistant at Land & Wave, explained: “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 even caught the attention of the team behind BBC’s Countryfile, who included the project in their episode on Poole Harbour last month.

“I’m a huge Countryfile fan”, added Paul, “so it was a dream come true to take Anita Rani paddle boarding for the programme.

Ria and the Warden on a BARI stand at DCF Con 1“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.

“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.”

BARI will hold their first sessions at The Jazz Café, Sandbanks on Thursday 25th January 25th, from 1:30 to 3pm.

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