CLOSING an award-winning tourist attraction that draws nearly half a million visitors annually would be ‘nothing short of a wildlife disaster’.

A petition has been set up following claims that Natural Resources Wales is to close Ynyslas Visitor Centre at the end of December.

Despite requests for confirmation on the proposed closure, no response has yet been received from NRW.

The rumoured closure has been blasted as a ‘retrograde’ step and dubbed a ‘foolhardy proposal’ by former Ceredigion MP and Borth resident, Mark Williams and so far, 1,330 people have signed an online petition to prevent the closure.

Mr Williams told the Cambrian News: “Local residents will be amazed to hear of this retrograde step, and to suggest closing the car park is quite frankly ridiculous.

“I want to pay tribute to the excellent staff who provide a multitude of services for local people and tourists alike, like warning people of the dangers of the tidal waters, providing nature and conservation advice, and very practical tasks like administering first aid, and being a critical point of contact when people get lost.

“Those staff are very much on the frontline.

“They are valued by many and should still be maintained in a functioning Ynyslas base.

“Redeploying them elsewhere leaves visitors to this part of our coastline vulnerable.

“Furthermore, to leave just one manager in situ, with most of the overheads still accruing, makes no economic sense at all.

“I would strongly urge the Executive Team at NRW to withdraw this foolhardy proposal."

Ynyslas nature reserve
Ynyslas Nature Reserve (NRW)

An online petition has been set up by June Lincoln, who writes: “The Ynyslas Visitor Centre plays a crucial role in preserving our local environment. It has been instrumental in dealing with invasive species and protecting rare orchids that are native to our area. Its closure would not only be a loss for us humans but also pose a significant threat to these delicate ecosystems.

“Moreover, the staff at the visitor centre contribute significantly towards maintaining cleanliness by clearing up dog mess and rubbish regularly. Without their efforts, we risk turning our beautiful natural space into an unsightly dump.

“Closing down the Ynyslas Visitor Centre will have far-reaching consequences beyond what we can see today - it will be nothing short of a wildlife disaster.”

Cian Llywelyn, a former visitor centre officer at Ynyslas, added: “Amid a nature and climate crisis, it is remarkable that Natural Resources Wales are choosing to close Ynyslas Visitor Centre within the Dyfi National Nature Reserve.

“As an internationally important mudflat, the largest dunescape in Ceredigion, and the nesting site of vulnerable wading birds, this site is invaluable for both nature and people. “Over 400,000 visitors travel to the reserve every year to enjoy its spectacular wildlife and exceptional natural beauty, begging the question of how the closure of the centre can be justified.

“At this site, visitor centre staff are vital in maintaining the delicate balance of tourism honey-pot and fragile habitat. NRW’s decision to close this centre is shocking, and I am deeply concerned about the impact this will have on the environment, as well as the local community.”

Borth resident Kate Doubleday said: "I'm very upset to hear the news. the staff who work at the Visitor Centre do an amazing job of keeping the area accessible. Lots of them are conservationists and they protect a valuable area of Wales.

"It's an absolutely fabulous site, I started going there around 2007, and it's such a unique experience being in that landscape. Each season brings new varieties of animals and plants, like the orchids that grow during the summer. It makes the site so special."

"It's a SSSI site and there are various rare species there which you can't see in the rest of the UK. They keep visitors informed of things like the tide, the variety of accessible pathways at the site, and conduct risk assessments. They do a lot of which visitors might not be aware of to maintain the site. You can't imagine life without them.

"The staff at the visitor centre also act as a deterrent to stop people vandalising the site by driving their cars or leaving rubbish on restricted parts of the beach."

The Cambrian News awaits comment from Natural Resources Wales.