This snapshot, taken on
02/11/2011
, shows web content acquired for preservation by The National Archives. External links, forms and search may not work in archived websites and contact details are likely to be out of date.
 
 
The UK Government Web Archive does not use cookies but some may be left in your browser from archived websites.
Natural England - Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

The most common questions our Enquiry Service handles:

  1. Does Natural England cover all of the UK?
  2. What is the law relating to nesting birds?
  3. What should I do if I think a crime is taking place?
  4. What can I do to encourage wildlife into my garden?
  5. I have just seen a snake in my garden. What should I do?
  6. Who do I speak to about Environment Stewardship schemes?
  7. Where can I find information on a National Trail?
  8. Do you have any information on walking or ‘green exercise’?
  9. What is open access land and is there any in my area?
  10. I have been advised to get a protected species survey. Who do I contact?
  11. Where can I find information on Rights of Way?
  12. Can't find the answer here?

Does Natural England cover all of the UK?

Natural England covers England only. For further information about Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales or the UK, please refer to:

The Joint Nature Conservation Committeeexternal link is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation. It works to deliver the UK and international responsibilities of these agencies.

What is the law relating to nesting birds?

In brief, all birds, their nests and eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It would be an offence, with certain exceptions, to intentionally:

  • kill, injure or take any wild bird
  • take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built
  • take or destroy the egg of any wild bird
  • or recklessly disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

What should I do if I think a crime is taking place?

You should always contact the police if you think a crime is taking place. You need to speak to their wildlife crime officer. The more information you have about the incident the better. See Defra's Partnership for Action against Wildlife crime (PAW)external link.

Alternatively you can report it online on the RSPBexternal link website.

One of the exceptions would be under a General Licence, which have specific criteria and are subject to conditions of use. For more details contact our Wildlife Management and Licensing Service.

What can I do to encourage wildlife into a garden?

Join The Big Wildlife Gardenexternal link and get lots of tips to boost your garden's attractiveness to wildlife.

See Wildlife gardening which also has information on available grants for groups, e.g. schools, charities.

I have just seen a snake in my garden. What should I do?

The best advice is to remain calm and to do nothing. It is most likely to be a grass snake or a slow worm (a legless lizard) as they often visit gardens. They are totally harmless.

If possible try to get a good look at it, taking note of its markings and colouration, as this will assist you in the identification of it. The Froglifeexternal link website has an excellent species guide which can assist with identification. In conjunction with this they also have a interactive amphibian and reptile identification guide and a comprehensive FAQs section all about snakes and slow worms.

Snakes are shy, secretive creatures and will usually flee from humans and pets. Do not attempt to handle, capture or harm it. All English reptiles have declined in numbers over the last few decades and are legally protected against killing, injury and sale. The smooth snake and sand lizard also have additional protection.

Our Reptiles in your gardenexternal link leaflet is full of useful information on this misunderstood creature. It answers the most common queries and will assist with understanding rather than fearing our native reptiles. For the severely phobic there is also a section on what can be done to ‘snake proof’ your garden.

If you are still concerned and would like to talk to somebody, contact our Enquiry Service.

Who do I contact about Environment Stewardship schemes?

See Environment Stewardship contacts.

Where can I find information on a National Trail?

See National Trails or go to the dedicated National Trails websiteexternal link.

Do you have any information on walking or ‘green exercise’?

We have a range of information on how to enjoy the natural environment and exercise outdoors, including details on our Walking the Way to Health initiative. Find out more in Health and the natural environment, which includes details on local health walk schemes.

What is open access land and is there any in my area?

Open access (also know as the ‘right to roam’) land is mapped access land that you can walk across without having to keep to the footpaths. You can locate and view maps in Open Access land.

I have been advised to get a protected species survey undertaken. Who do I contact?

You will need to employ a qualified ecologist to do this. Natural England is unable to recommend anyone but the following websites will help you to find suitable people:

Where can I find information about Rights of Way?

See Rights of Way.

It is the highway authority (county council or unitary authority) who are responsible for maintaining and protecting public rights of way. Any questions on where you can walk or ride, about maintenance or obstructions, or whether a right exists should be addressed to a rights of way officer. If you do not know how to contact your highway authority see DirectGov's local councils directoryexternal link.

Can’t find the answer here?

Select a region