The most common questions our Enquiry Service handles:
Natural England covers England only. For further information about Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales or the UK, please refer to:
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation. It works to deliver the UK and international responsibilities of these agencies.
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:
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).
Alternatively you can report it online on the RSPB website.
Join The Big Wildlife Garden 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.
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 Froglife 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 garden 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.
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.
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.
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:
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 directory.