|The future is looking brighter for fire-ravaged Upton Heath, with the help of overwhelming public support, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust, which manages the site. Three months on from the fire that devastated a third of the nature reserve, local people and supporters from as far away as Germany have so far raised a total of £39,000 towards the ongoing restoration of part of the rarest habitat in Britain.
The funds, which could be increased with match funding grants, will allow conservationists to go ahead with vital habitat management, fire prevention and access plans, which are already at an advanced stage following extensive consultation with local residents, emergency services and conservation bodies.
Damaged but by no means dead
Plans for Upton Heath include extending the use of grazing animals to manage the habitat, increasing the network of fire defendable lines and reviewing access to the site with Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Natural England. With the support of local residents, Dorset Wildlife Trust is also launching a Heathwatch scheme. The neighbourhood watch-style initiative will see local people out and about helping to act as extra eyes and ears for the wardens. Volunteers will be briefed on what to look out for and who to contact if they see any potential problems or suspicious behaviour and it is hoped that they will also act as a deterrent to potential arsonists.
Andy Fale, Dorset Wildlife Trust Warden, said: “Upton Heath is damaged but it is by no means dead. The large unburnt area is looking fantastic this year and is providing a home for birds such as Dartford warbler, which were forced to look for new territories, as well as the many displaced reptiles. Dragonflies are exceptional on this site, providing food for our hobby family and the heath is in full bloom. This is what we will see again on the damaged area, thanks to the fantastic response from the public to our appeal.”
To volunteer for Upton Heathwatch, visit the Upton Heathwatch page
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01202 692033.
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
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Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Upton heath the unburnt area in bloom last week. Part of the burnt area is visible in top left hand corner.
Photo by Nicky Hoar
Dartford warbler on Upton Heath some pairs have successfully fledged young after moving to new territories following the fire.
Photo by Colin Smith