Following last summer’s devastating fire on Upton Heath, local volunteers are taking direct action to protect the wildlife haven. With the strong support of local residents, Dorset Wildlife Trust is this month launching a Heathwatch scheme to prevent such a disaster from happening again on some of the rarest habitat in Britain.
Ever since the fire, we have had fantastic support from local volunteers, who are determined to help protect Upton Heath and its wildlife
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 trained 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. Clearly recognisable in their Heathwatch T shirts, the volunteers will be equipped with emergency contact details and wildlife information, ready to help protect the 500 acre site, just as the bird and reptile season is beginning.
Our Heathwatch volunteers will be invaluable in ensuring their safety for this and future seasons
Andy Fale, Dorset Wildlife Trust Warden, said: “Ever since the fire, we have had fantastic support from local volunteers, who are determined to help protect Upton Heath and its wildlife. Last year people helped us rescue reptiles in the immediate aftermath. Now the surviving reptiles are already up and about in the sunshine and Dartford warblers are starting to build nests; our Heathwatch volunteers will be invaluable in ensuring their safety for this and future seasons, by their presence and vigilance. If you would like to help, please get in touch.”
Heathwatch has been made possible thanks to the Upton Heath Appeal fund, which now stands at over £50,000. These funds are also being used for vital habitat management, fire prevention and access improvements following extensive consultation with local residents, emergency services and conservation bodies. Plans for Upton Heath include extending the use of grazing animals to manage the habitat, increasing the network of fire defendable lines and improving access to the site in partnership with Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and Natural England.
To volunteer for Upton Heathwatch, please click here visit or ring 01202 692033.
For more information please contact Andy Fale at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01202 692033.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
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.
Heathwatch launch on Upton Heath - Kerry Staddon