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Thread: Ban: Sussex Wildlife Trust

  1. #1

    Default Ban: Sussex Wildlife Trust

    Hi all

    I have been investigating the placement of caches on Sussex Wildlife Trust Land. Unfortunatly they have taken the decision to ban the placement of caches on the land they manage. Email Chain below - please can the database be updated?

    A link to a map showing all the sites they manage can be found here

    Regards, Chris

    Email Chain - (starts at the bottom)

    From: SteveTillman

    Chris
    I am afraid that is the policy for all of the Sussex Wildlife Trust sites.
    Steve

    From: Street, Chris

    Hi Steve

    Thanks for your prompt reply.

    I am very sorry to hear of your negative experience of geocaching and that caches have been placed without permission. Unfortunately, as with all activities, there are those who circumnavigate the rules and ultimately spoil it for others.

    Having grown up in the area I was hoping to bring others to a woodland that I have greatly enjoyed, however I fully respect and understand your decision. Can you confirm if this is the policy for all Sussex Wildlife Trust managed land throughout the county?

    Once again thank you for your reply.

    Chris

    From: SteveTillman

    Dear Chris

    We were approached recently about allowing Geocaching on our nature reserves including Withdean Woods.

    After some discussion both within the Trust and with Neil Doyle at Brighton and Hove it was decided that it was not an appropriate activity to have within a nature reserve.

    I'm sorry about this decision. Previously on some of our other sites groups have placed geacache containers without permission, which became dumping grounds for all sorts of litter.

    This has unfortunately tainted our view of the hobby, which I feel is a worthwhile one in principle.

    Regards

    Steve Tillman

    Reserves Officer




  2. #2
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    sorry to hear this and thanks for trying and maybe those who say that no harm is done by " assuming adequate permission is there" might learn a lesson from this. but then it's not life or death so probably not.

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    Pity they don't do something about all the dog owners who take their pets for a cr@p every day on their reserves...... I know which I think is less appropriate on a nature reserve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Street_Searchers View Post

    please can the database be updated?

    Done. Thanks for trying.

  5. #5

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    Obviously, this is outside my area so I don't mind avoiding Sussex Wildlife Trust reserves (although I am planning a lengthy visit to Sussex soon, mostly a walking trip but some geocaches will be on the agenda). As they appear to be discouraging visitors I'm happy enough to comply and keep off their land.

    But yet again I'm left scratching my head about the reason behind the ban.

    If a geocache is left without permission, apparently this then becomes a dumping ground "for all sorts of litter". But this curious phenomenon is only observed in Sussex Wildlife Trust reserves: remarkable. I haven't noticed it happeneing elsewhere. The inference is that if permission had been sought, then the litter problem wouldn't have occurred.

    The logic of that seems clear to Nobby, but it escapes me.

    It appears that every geocache ban has a reason, but they're all different.
    That doesn't help convince me that it's not a case of "the ban comes first and the reasons are thought of later"!

  6. #6
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    yes the claim that the litter increase is spurious.

    Just maybe they get a bad impression of the hobby and how much they can trust the peeople who cache by the way that although the hobby clearly states that adequate permission is needed, they have experienced that caches are placed with no permission at all being sought. if that fundamental point is ignored how can they rely on our word to be pro countryside and anti litter and so on?

    that does make logical sense to me.

  7. #7

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    Yes, but when it comes down to it geocaches are generally harmless, and placed where access isn't a problem. Or at least, there's no information in this case that any of the caches was causing an actual problem except for the spurious excuse noted.

    I don't think it's as simple as just getting permission for all caches.

    If permission wasn't sought for a particular cache and then the land manager comes across it, he should really ask himself whether it's worth making a fuss about something that's doing no harm. I agree that he will think that it would have been nicer to have been asked, but using common sense he would perhaps understand that the cache placer might worry that making the cache "official" causes all sorts of problems for the land manager and may force him into a corner.

    When left unofficial, the manager can simply turn a blind eye - a lot less problematical than having to take responsibility for the blighter along with all the attendant costs and admin. If I was managing an area and found a cache placed at a reasonable location, I'd probably e-mail geocaching.com to ask how quickly they could have it removed should a problem occur. Once reassured, I'd keep quiet about it and pretend I'd never seen it.

    But then if someone writes to me and requests specific written permission for a new cache I'd probably decide that things were now too formal to just ignore caches, and simply ban the lot. Perhaps with a spurious excuse to head off any dispute. If that instantly makes the problem disappear then I'd be satisfied.

    The other option is that a geocaching representative offers to take responsibility for all caches in my area and be on the end of a phone for me so I can report any problems. In return they will not take this as permission, thus leaving the caches unofficial and allowing me to continue ignoring them.

    Having said all that, I do prefer to get permission for my caches wherever practical. But in my view, we need to look more carefully at the way land managers deal with caches (those with permission and others), and see what the real problems are, rather than accepting bans at face value or insisting that written permission must be filed in all cases.

    Yes, in some cases written permission is necessary and works in everyone's favour. All I'm saying is that I don't think it helped in this case, and we have to be careful not to cause a problem where none existed before.

  8. #8
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    and i have experience of negotiating an agreement with hampshire wildlife trust when they had become aware of numerous caches that had been placed without permission.
    As land managers they do not take the option of turning a blind eye to people who place items on their land and then encourage others to go looking.
    strangely the forestry commission in the new forest took a similar approach. the discovered all the caches that had been placed and took the decision that they did not like the idea of people not asking before placing. they just gave one of their employees a gps and told them to collect the lot. a long and complicated negotiation the ensued to get a limited agreement that is still tentative entirely due to the fact that their original contact was by finding caches on their land.

    it would be a lovely world where people realised how innocuous geocaching is and how much of a benefit it can have by encouraging more "normal" people to explore the countryside and keep the less desirables away. how we can co exist without any problems and often with numerous benefits. unfortunately, when the first experience is negative, they often react in a negative manner and it then becomes much harder to bring them back round to our side.

    but it's a personal choice. i personnally think it's often lazyness that stops people asking that or they feel embarressed about asking a stranger if they can leave a plastic box on their land. but then my opinion is often criticised.
    if you ask a land manager and they say no. what makes you think that they will say yes by the act of just placing it there?

    but this is a moote point. people either think that they should go out and get permission or they don't. maybe we should start listing the names of the people who placed caches without permission that then result in bans.


    it's been a long and tiring day

  9. #9

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    Sorry but I had to explain to a cache owner who had permission off the local Manager, why all of a sudden I had to Archive all 4 of her caches with permission.

    The Wildlife Trust Discovered a cache placed without permission. The area being carpeted by Bluebells, having been trampled by Geocachers searching for the container.

    The net result? They joined GC and found out about every cache placed on their properties. Then passed the GC Codes of over 30 caches, to Groundspeak, with a requirement that "All" those caches were removed.

    The situation now is because of one cache. We now have Multiple locations out of Bounds. And a upset cache owner who did the correct thing and obtained permission. Only for her to get a Kick in the teeth, because of fellow members of the community.

    Informal agreements on the quiet are fine, but as the above shows. It doesn't protect that persons caches. Where a Formal Agreement usually made at a Senior level has a better chance of doing so. As the Reviewers will show and explain to that Senior Management what actions have been taken over any issue.

    Deci
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    people either think that they should go out and get permission or they don't.
    It's usually far from obvious to most people that you'd need formal permission in places where you see others parking cars, walking dogs, having picnics and so on. Particularly when there are thousands of unofficial "caches" to be found per square mile! Plus, the majority don't visit any forum so aren't aware of these discussions, or issues caused by lack of forethought. So we have to be tolerant of those that appear to bypass the process.

    I don't want to be a thorn in the side too much so I'll shut up about permission now. Good work in the New Forest.

    But rather than simply blaming people who have placed caches without permission, I would like to see the GAGB take a more proactive role in educating landowners. I know it might not be practical at the moment due to lack of volunteers, but ideally they should be actually visiting Wildlife Trusts and Forestry Commission bodies (and similar) and taking them through on-site demonstrations of geocaching, then answering their questions directly. Preferably before problems arise. Then negotiating a formal agreement with them. The land manager should also understand that "unofficial" caches may exist, and learn how to deal with them without throwing tantrums. This is "The GAGB it's future and purpose"! I wish I had time to help.

    I feel that a lot of these problems are due to a lack of understanding and experience on the part of the landowner, as much as lack of effort by the cache placer. Groundspeak reviewers can merely act on the instructions of the landowner, but when we get bans due to "litter dumping" I think it's time someone went out and checked what they mean and then showed them how caching really works.

    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    it would be a lovely world where people realised how innocuous geocaching is and how much of a benefit it can have
    If landowners were actually shown what geocaching consists of (as opposed to their own perception), perhaps we'd have that lovely world in more parts of the country.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    But rather than simply blaming people who have placed caches without permission, I would like to see the GAGB take a more proactive role in educating landowners.
    But then later some "educated" landowners discover caches placed without permission .
    Some then think negatively about Geocaches .

    Who needs educating more ? Landowners , cache owners or both .
    We like Greens

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    Quote Originally Posted by t.a.folk View Post
    But then later some "educated" landowners discover caches placed without permission .
    Some then think negatively about Geocaches .

    Who needs educating more ? Landowners , cache owners or both .
    That's why I said
    The land manager should also understand that "unofficial" caches may exist, and learn how to deal with them without throwing tantrums.
    .
    I wouldn't expect them to approve of such practices, but they have to learn that it will happen and that it's not a major disaster!

  13. #13
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    Some great ideas. With one small problem. We have jobs, commitments and limited bank accounts!

    I'd love to be salaried by the GAGB members to drive around as official representative of the geocachers of the UK and negotiate with all the major players and get geocaching allowed. That funding is going to be hard to get.

    Ultimately, the people who own land and have rights and responsibilities for that land do not have to let us leave items on it. We have no right to do so. We normally only have right to cross land or on common land graze animals and similar. Yes, our hobby is innocent and can be good for the country, but it can also do harm. Once a bad placement has been done and damage caused because they placed it in winter and couldn't see the rare plants that were going to be trampled in the summer, it's too late.

    Who is it that needs educating? The geocachers themselves.
    The hants wildlife trust agreement requires the cache to be placed with a warden present to make sure that there will be no problem with flora or fauna because they know the site in it's entirety all through the year. The cacher who vaguely knows it might not realise and places it thinking that it's within the distance a frisbee would travel off a footpath. One person retrieving a frisbeee causes very little damage, one or two people walking the exact same route once a week does cause damage.

    So how can we change this situation?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    Some great ideas. With one small problem. We have jobs, commitments and limited bank accounts!

    I'd love to be salaried by the GAGB members to drive around as official representative of the geocachers of the UK and negotiate with all the major players and get geocaching allowed. That funding is going to be hard to get.
    I think that you've got to the nub of the problem. We're trying to deal with a mainstream pastime involving thousands of participants (in the UK), based on a structure that was set up when it was a very small pastime involving just a few hundred. So we have no representative body, and an association that can only cope with reacting to problems as they arise. And then mostly only by e-mail. The only weapon in its arsenal seems to be to apply bans and restrictions to geocachers, with some negotiating where possible to minimise the impact. I'm not implying any criticism of the esteemed GAGB volunteer staff, but you can only do so much by e-mail in your spare time.

    The BMC (UK Climbing body) perhaps represents a similar number of participants, but contrast their activities and structure (salaried staff, proactive access negotiations, insurance, courses, presentations, lectures (etc).

    I don't have the answer to how this could come about, but I think that simply applying bans on the whim of landowners won't solve the problem long-term. There has to be a team who work with landowners and solve their problems without waiting until offence has been caused.

  15. #15

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    The easiest thing would be for GC.com (and all other listing sites) to require evidence that permission has been gained both for new caches and retrospectively. By evidence I mean a letter / email agreeing to the place where the cache has been hidden. That way the cachers trying to do the right thing are on a level playing field to those who do not.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Street_Searchers View Post
    The easiest thing would be for GC.com (and all other listing sites) to require evidence that permission has been gained both for new caches and retrospectively. By evidence I mean a letter / email agreeing to the place where the cache has been hidden. That way the cachers trying to do the right thing are on a level playing field to those who do not.
    Sounds simple, but if you think about it there's no way that this could work in practice. The main problem is that you can just fake a letter or e-mail to get round the problem. Groundspeak don't have the resources to check whether these are bona fide. If the site is in the middle of a city (for instance) it may take a long drawn-out investigation to ascertain the owner of the land (and he might not be the person who manages the site anyway). If it's the typical magnetic-micro-on-a-railing, it might not be clear whether it's on one side or the other (it would depend on how cachers replace the micro) and two landowners would have to be consulted. It could take the reviewer a year just to verify one case, by which time the cacher will have lost interest anyway! The Duke of Norfolk may well get sick of all the enquiries and just ban caches altogether.

    The second problem is that quite often there's no practical way of obtaining a genuine letter of permission. Even after the above long drawn-out business there might be no-one willing to commit. Much of Britain is owned by aristocratic families who are unwilling to reveal the extent of thei properties: see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...gs-443956.html

  17. #17
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    The problem is that people use that as an excuse not to bother.

    Yes it is often difficult to obtain permission, but you should at least try, it's not practical to try and get a written letter on file. How about if the listing sites were a little more forthright?
    How about they say that permission is required and that it is expected to be obtained. Then clearly state that all caches are the responsibility of the cache owners and that any legal comeback for caches placed without permission is down to the cache placer.

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    I can see that, so what do you do about the fake letter of permission? Or the large percentage of the country where permission is impossible? 40% of land is unregistered; many caches on such areas that have written permission are probably unknown to the landowner as permission was only granted by the local tenant (unofficially). And if "trying" is enough, why bother to do more? All this for a nano at a bus stop?

    This might provide an excuse in some cases, but you really have to look into making it much easier, so excuses aren't needed. Inroads have been made in some areas, but this is where the GAGB is still weak. How about caches being approved by the GAGB, who investigate and handle permission issues where necessary and set up renewal schedules on behalf of members? Liaising with land managers all over the country? Giving assurance to Groundspeak (etc) that a cache can be listed? I would probably pay a fee for a GAGB-approved cache site...

    Yes, I know you don't have the resources now, but something has to be done.

  19. #19
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    It's a fundamental thing that we are free to join and that subscriptions will never be charged. never being a very powerful word.

    chicken and egg. if we had enough money to pay one of us to even part time negotiate all those agreements it would be great. but. no way to force people to only place them on the places we have negotiated an agreement with, no way to force people to comply with our terms and the terms of landowner, no way for us to somehow figure out who owns all the land.

    i just think that people find it too easy to just not bother some ( lots) of the time. with no come back. maybe we need gc etc on board. a stronger worded requirement for permission to be obtained with clear consiquences should they not bother. they are named and shamed if they cause other caches to be removed by their lazyness, or maybe they lose the right temp to place any caches should a problem arise due to their lazyness. and the problem could be just an easily identified land owner coming forward and complaining.

    to easy not to bother, no come back from not bothering...... and everyone else picks up their mess and tries to clean it up.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    i just think that people find it too easy to just not bother some ( lots) of the time. with no come back. maybe we need gc etc on board. a stronger worded requirement for permission to be obtained with clear consiquences should they not bother. they are named and shamed if they cause other caches to be removed by their lazyness, or maybe they lose the right temp to place any caches should a problem arise due to their lazyness. and the problem could be just an easily identified land owner coming forward and complaining.

    to easy not to bother, no come back from not bothering...... and everyone else picks up their mess and tries to clean it up.
    What percentage of caches in the UK have caused a serious problem, would you estimate? Perhaps this is where we see things differently, because none of mine have ever caused a serious problem even though I have had to remove a couple (out of over a hundred), whereas you probably hear of dozens of cases every day. What I mean by "serious problem" is that there was serious environmental damage that had to be repaired, or where the police had to be called and a prosection was sought. I'm just trying to get a perspective on this. If there were (say) only 500 such incidents in a year in the UK then it might be best to just put up with the occasional bad cache rather than taking drastic action. But if there are 500 a week then clearly it's going to be worth the effort.

  21. #21
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    I would say an incident anywhere above a landowner insisting that all caches are removed. Anything that causes another person's cache having to be archived. I know it's not serious in the " the world's ending" scale of things but it has a slow drip drip effect on geocaching as a whole. We tend to see a regular flow of large areas banning caches due to no permission being asked for.

    It may carry on being nothing all that serious and only effect one or two locations per year for many years to come, but it may also begin to rise as more and more caches are placed without permission cause more and more bans. People tend to tell other people more often when things annoy them than when they are happy, ie landowners will bad mouth us much more than recommend.

    And many land owners look at forums such as ours to judge the general level of cachers and what they can expect

  22. #22

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    If a landowner insists that all caches are removed, he must have a list of specific problems with ALL those caches. Otherwise, it's just childish throwing of toys. Hardly reasonable behaviour for someone who's supposed to be managing our countryside for us.

    That's why I'd hope that in the future, landowners are briefed in advance as to how to deal with errant caches. If one is reported as causing a genuine problem then it can be sorted; usually by simply having it uplifted.
    Hardly a major incident - normally it can be put in one's pocket and carried away. Why that would mean that another cache has to also be removed if it's been sitting around unnoticed for years defies reason.

    I suspect that the teddy-throwing types haven't really understood what these things are, so I'll forgive them. They often seem to assume that there's a major organised treasure-hunting type of event occurring on their land, so perhaps no wonder that they get upset. If they understood what was actually occurring, I suspect that they'd realise that they're wasting their time worrying about it.
    Again, it's up to the geocaching fraternity to educate and prepare, but not to simply give in to the whim of anyone who decides to take against cachers.

  23. #23
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    We do agree on some things but differ on others.

    I see the reaction of many landowners and appreciate that they do not have to allow us to place caches. It's easier for them to just say no. They may well be "throwing their toys" but they do and they can and they will continue to do so.
    Perhaps one of the reviewers will comment on how often they are asked to remove many caches because a landowner has decreed that no caches are allowed.
    While this is frustrating we often hit a brick wall over this matter. here is a major and important piece of information.

    In negotiations I have found and would expect the vast majority to agree that:
    negotiating a successful agreement is far easier and more likely to succeed if no caches have been placed on that land without permission. The negotiations that have ended in no agreement due to caches being placed without permission account are the majority of the bans that we have.
    There are no requirements by law for anyone to allow us to place caches. It may be childish, immature, irrational, uneducated, or any other negative description that you wish to ascribe to them. But here's the thing, it's their right. Pure and simple. We may not like it agree with it or feel that it is morally ok but it's still their legal right and the easiest solution for them.

    So the matter will continue and probably get worse. For however long caches are placed without permission we will end up with more large bans and more people having their caches removed.

    This is not life or death and more important things are on the news everyday but it is important for our hobby and for our standing in the eyes of the landowners of this country.
    It's effectively their land and therefore we have to comply to their wishes not the other way around.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    But here's the thing, it's their right. Pure and simple. We may not like it agree with it or feel that it is morally ok but it's still their legal right and the easiest solution for them.
    I'm still not convinced about this. I think that they might try to invoke some sort of "littering" law if they want to prevent caches being placed, but it would be interesting to see how that stands up in court (I'm not going to try it out, though!). Otherwise, unless there are specific bylaws it's hard to see what powers a landowner has to prevent such activities. All he can do is refuse permission. Luckily for some landowners, that will often prevent caches being listed and he will effectively have his way.

    But putting that to one side, I agree that negotiations will be made more difficult if the landowner discovers caches already in place. In the interests of an easy life for the negotiator, it would be better if the area was "clean" of caches. If not, and the end result is tantrums and bans then that's due to weak negotiating skills (in my view). Landowners have to learn that this game rarely does any harm, generally has very little effect at all, presents no danger to their staff and can be more or less ignored altogether. And if any cache causes concern, the cache owner can easily be asked to remove or relocate the cache and will tend to comply with such a wish immediately and happily (if there seems to be a good reason for it). Arbitrary bans, however, may eventually lead to regrettable behaviour.

  25. #25
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    With your obviously above average negotiating skills are you putting yourself forward to start discussions with major landowners?

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    With your obviously above average negotiating skills are you putting yourself forward to start discussions with major landowners?
    hmy:
    :lol:
    Seriously, I'd like to set up a team to do just that. With minor landowners too. Unfortunately I barely get time to find a few caches nowadays.

  27. #27

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    Hi guys

    I have been thinking about the SWT issue for a little while and how best to improve the image of caching. With this in mind I have emailed them to see if a CITO event could be arranged.

    A small step but hopefully one that will be successfull - will let you know how I get on.

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