Reply To: Nesting Birds, restricted times.

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Avatar photoDartmoor Dave

Just a little background on this subject. Two years ago, for some unknown reason, the Dartmoor National Park Authority removed their detailed Letterboxing Guidelines from their web site. Nobody noticed this for about a year when suddenly somebody at GAGB noticed that the link from the land owners database to the DNPA no longer worked. The reviewers interpreted this to mean that the DNPA had removed their permission for us to place geocaches in SSSIs. Nothing could be further from the truth as their stance on geocaching (and letterboxing) had not changed. However, the reviewers stopped us placing geocaches in SSSIs.

I decided that action was needed and spent the next 2 months negotiating a set of new geocaching guidelines that were not connected with letterboxing. Negotiating with the DNPA was fairly easy, but it was much more difficult to get the reviewers to accept the new agreement. Eventually I had a new agreement in place which was accepted by all parties and which was published on this web site and we were up and running again.

During these negotiations with the DNPA the question of nesting sites and several other similar issues were discussed, but it was agreed that these would not be included in the guidelines, rather the DNPA would keep a eye on the placement of geocaches and see how it developed. This is still the situation today and although the odd geocache has been placed there is certainly no concentration of such caches. When I placed my recent caches I ensured that I avoided the Tavy Cleave and placed one at each end.

In reality these remote caches get almost no visitors. The Cut Hill Wilderness cache has only ever had 65 finds in nearly 4 years and only 10 in the last year. The impact of these caches is negligible when compared with other footfall on the moor. For example something like 10,000 Ten Tors visitors each year, the majority in the bird nesting season, and countless DofE and other activities.

It is also worth remembering that whilst geocaching and letterboxing are similar activities they are not the same. Geocaching is far more rigourously policed than letterboxing as anybody who has tried to place a cache will know. We are often made to jump through hoops to get a placement, whereas there are no formal controls for letterboxing at all. Geocaches have to be maintained and they are constantly monitored and abandoned caches quickly taken out of play. The same is not true of letterboxing and there must be at least a 100 letterboxes on the moor for each geocache, many of them totally abandoned.