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Case study: Encouraging harmony between watersports and wildlife

Watersports, especially paddleboarding and kite surfing, have become increasingly popular with a likely increase in related bird disturbance.

The opportunity

Bird Aware Solent developed the Watersports with Wildlife education initiative in collaboration with 15 stakeholders from the watersports community within the Solent, including businesses, harbour masters, country parks and Natural England.

The initiative aims to reduce disturbance to birds from paddle and wind sports in Special Protected Areas on the Solent coast.

Its aim is to ‘nudge’ people into wildlife-friendly behaviours just as they are entering the sport, and in this way build habits that are less likely to disturb coastal birds.

A kayaker on the River Hamble

The results

The initiative’s interactive watersports map received over 2,000 pageviews within the first month of its launch. It:

  • Showcases wildlife-friendly entry and exit points
  • Highlights areas of the coast where birds are particularly sensitive to disturbance
  • Signposts amenities such as parking, toilets, and food kiosks.

The online map is accompanied by six recommended paddle routes chosen to alleviate pressure on particularly sensitive coastal areas, together with leaflets that give practical tips for paddle and wind sport enthusiasts on enjoying their sport responsibly.

1,500 leaflets have been distributed through the watersports community and 46 businesses and organisations contacted. Effectiveness will be evaluated after one year by comparing paddle and wind craft launch sites with baseline data.