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Land Based Recreation (Walking & Dog Walking)

Accessible Waterside Land in the Solent
Accessible Waterside Land in the Solent © Natural England

The SEMS annual survey shows that walking (incl. with dogs) is the most important issue to address in the SEMS management scheme due to the levels of bird disturbance from widespread participation. Information from Natural England's conservation advice packages for the Solent's designated sites highlights the following potential effects that land based recreation may have on habitats and species.

Bird Aware Solent

Bird Aware Solent is the brand name of the Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership (SRMP). It is made up of fifteen local councils, Natural England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Solent Forum, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, and Chichester Harbour Conservancy.

Its purpose is to facilitate joint working by local authorities and other bodies on the implementation of measures which will mitigate the impact of additional recreational activity arising from new housing development. This is to prevent a significant effect on the three Special Protection Areas in the Solent. It supersedes the Solent Disturbance and Mitigation Project which commissioned research into the impacts. View the Bird Aware Solent website for lots of detailed information and resources on mitigating recreation on the Solent's coastal birds.

Its Coast and Country Canines initiative has a suite of resources including featured dog walks, training guides, blogs and other dog related advice.  Materials highlight dog safety and welfare to appeal to dog owners and provide them with a valuable experience, but the aim of reducing disturbance and protecting birds is ever present. The dedicated Facebook page, Facebook group and Instagram profile are now posting regularly and followers are steadily growing.

Bird Aware also produces comprehensive Monitoring Reports that give detailed information on coastal walking participation across various Solent sites.

King Charles III Coast Path

The King Charles III Coast Path is a National Trail around all of England’s coast. As part of the process in establishing the path, Natural England undertakes nature conservation and Habitats Regulations assessments of any impacts of people using the path. Once the paths open they are handed over to Natural England’s National Trails team and managed by a National Trails Partnership. These partnerships which will include Relevant Authorities and will be able to raise funding (75% government 25% other) to maintain/improve the path. There is no formal monitoring mechanism as to how paths will be used, and any disturbance affects, however it would be to the new trail partnership that organisations such as Bird Aware and the Solent Marine Sites could feedback any data on path usage that may vary from plans and assessment.  Variation may include access to areas not planned and/or greater than envisaged disturbance to designated species/habitats.  It is through this process that changes could be made if necessary to mitigate or to manage site access, if impacts to designated sites are greater than forecast.

The following stretches of the path cover Solent locations.

England Coast Path Solent