05:31PM, Tuesday 26 January 2021
Visitors are being urged to only visit Burnham Beeches if they live locally after visitor numbers tripled since March 2020 causing damage to the beauty spot.
The City of London Corporation, which manages the site, says the huge rise in visitor numbers is harming sensitive habitats and concerns are growing permanent damage will be done unless action is taken.
Visits have risen from around 500,000 per year to nearly two million.
The wet winter conditions have made the situation worse.
From February 1 half of the car parks will be closed at Burnham Beeches to help protect the European Special Area of Conservation and National Nature Reserve.
Parking restrictions will also be introduced by Buckinghamshire Council on local roads to discourage parking on highways.
Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Commons Committee, Graeme Doshi-Smith, said: “This increase is sadly having a detrimental impact on the ground, and much of the damage could take decades to restore.
“We ask that people please remember the government guidelines and only visit if you live locally.
“With support we can all play our part in helping to protect Burnham Beeches. Please help us to protect this amazing protected site.”
The City Corporation has updated signage at its open spaces in line with the latest government guidance.
People are allowed to exercise alone, with your household or support bubble or with one other person. Exercise should be limited to once per day and people should not travel outside their local area.
Social distancing should be maintained when around other people.
Burnham Beeches was bought by the City of London Corporation in 1880 to protect it as a public open space and wildlife reserve.
It has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1951, was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1993 and designated as a Special Area of Conservation in 2005.
The candidates standing in the upcoming Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner election have outlined their priorities for policing in the region.