Barry and Anne Yates, the next chapter


Barry Yates’s official retirement as manager of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve was on April 1, but because there is not yet a replacement for him, he is staying on part-time until a successor is found and to allow some time for a hand-over.

In conversation with Barry the future unfurls. “The plan is not just to retire and disappear: I want to stay and volunteer, and Anne will as well, so we can support what Lucy and the team are doing with Discover Rye Harbour, the National Lottery Heritage Fund project for its final year.

“We are staying local and I want to be involved in conservation projects in the area. There are several private nature reserves that I have been involved with for many years, so I am going to spend more time with them.

“There are places around Rye where wildlife could be improved and carbon capture increased and water stored to reduce flood risk. There are nature reserves and farmland with opportunities to continue to produce food, but with lower inputs of chemicals and perhaps higher water levels. In the next few years there will be opportunities for landowners to get a greater income from managing land sympathetically and I would like to work with some of them to achieve a better outcome for nature.

“It is important that there should be no feeling that I am looking over the shoulder of the new manager at Rye Harbour. When I came I followed someone who had been here for seven years and was called the ‘New Warden’ for about another seven.

“I am also going back to my academic roots and have become involved in a National project to sample and analyse flying insects. It is called DNA barcoding and is being run by the Wellcome Sanger Institute. I will capture these insects in a standard way and the institute will do all the analysis. Understanding wildlife is the key to reversing the decline in biodiversity that we see all around us.

Rye Harbour a place of solace

“Perhaps my days of being at the busy coast have had their day. Before we think of the future, which is exciting, we need to tie up some loose ends. We have a lot of good friends here so moving away would be hard. One of the reasons for my retirement is that the Discovery Centre and the Nature Reserve have had my full attention for many years and I have reached the point where I need a change. So now it is time for new and younger blood. It took a lot of hard thinking, but we decided now is the right time to retire.

“It is good to have a time for reflection and review our next steps. Society is in a very different place from when we first came here in 1984. Conservation was then a very niche idea and we had only a little support. Now it is so different, most people are aware of the decline of nature and more want to help. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve has grown and developed for wildlife and for people and the support given by many volunteers is astonishing. I would like to thank all the supporters of the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and Sussex Wildlife Trust and the partners on the management committee and the landowners that have made it such a special place. It’s been a privilege to have worked at this special place and with so many lovely people.”

Image Credits: KT Bruce , Kt bruce .

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