Rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia (NPWS SA) have noticed an increase in South Australians visiting their local parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trend towards social distancing in nature coincides with World Parks Week 2020, celebrated globally from 25 April to 3 May, which this year is centred around the theme of #NatureNeverCloses.
World Parks Week 2020 advocates for and supports the power of parks, open spaces, and nature as essential resources for health and wellness.
DEW’s Director of Regional Operations Stuart Paul said NPWS SA’s annual parks survey showed that seven out of ten South Australians visit at least one of the state’s national parks each year – and that anecdotal ranger reports indicated the number of visitors had increased over the past month.
“The feedback from park rangers is that the number of people visiting their local parks for exercise remains strong and in the vast majority of cases, people are doing the right thing in following COVID-19 restrictions, which has been great to see,” he said.
“With many other public places temporarily closed, it’s good to know there are still opportunities to connect with nature and de-stress in our open spaces.
“It appears that the community on the large are trying to make the best of a bad situation with more kids out riding bikes and scooters and families outside enjoying nature together.
The COVID-19 social distancing guidelines have provided an opportunity for the community to explore parks and introduce new families and younger generations to the social and well-being benefits of engaging with nature through parks.
“But it’s vital that we continue to follow social distancing guidelines, choose a park or garden near your home, keep a safe distance from others, and practice good hygiene.”
The majority of South Australian parks, including the Adelaide and Wittunga Botanic Gardens remain open to local visitors as long as people comply with social distancing and hygiene requirements.
However all campgrounds within the state’s parks are closed and key eco-tourism sites such as Cleland Wildlife Park, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, Seal Bay, Naracoorte and Tantanoola Caves and Old Adelaide Gaol are currently closed in the interests of public health and safety.
“While you might be itching to get out and about to stretch your legs, be smart about it. If you get to your local park and see a few too many cars or people around, making it potentially more difficult to maintain social distancing, consider coming back at another time or trying another park that’s also in your local area,” Stuart said.
“Remember to check the signage at your local park or visit the National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia website before you leave as not all sites allow bikes and scooters to be used.
“In those parks where dogs are permitted, they must be walked on designated walking trails, on a lead of no more than two metres, and under their owners’ control at all times.”