Dorset Wildlife Trust’s work with the local community on Upton Heath has been awarded at a ceremony in Poole. The conservation charity received a certificate of commendation for outstanding contribution to community safety for its continuing efforts to preserve Poole’s natural environment following the devastating fire in 2011.
Safer Poole Partnership
The John Jay awards are awarded by the Safer Poole Partnership to celebrate the people who have gone out of their way to make Poole even safer. Following the blaze that destroyed a third of the nationally important nature reserve, Dorset Wildlife Trust co-ordinated a huge community effort to rescue surviving reptiles and set out, with the help of over £50,000 raised by public appeal, to restore the heath to its former glory and to prevent such a disaster happening again. With the strong support of local residents, a HeathWatch scheme was launched with local people getting out on the heath to act as extra eyes and ears for the wardens. Over 60 people have joined HeathWatch so far and already they have reported fires and enabled police to prevent damage to the vulnerable and extremely rare habitat.
Steve Davis, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Volunteering Manager, said: “This is one example of the excellent work that our teams are doing in communities across the county. It is really heartening to gain such recognition for that work, not just for the staff of Dorset Wildlife Trust but also for our dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. The fire and its aftermath was a very difficult time for all of us, and it was the rallying of the local community and our volunteers that helped us through it, enabling us to develop projects such as HeathWatch to provide additional protection measure for the area.”
Andy Fale, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Upton Heath Restoration Project Officer, said: “Ever since the fire, we have had fantastic support from local volunteers, who are determined to help protect Upton Heath and its wildlife. We are very proud to accept this certificate on behalf of all the volunteers.”
Dorset Wildlife Trust was nominated by Mary Flynn, from Springbourne, who said: “Every single member of the Dorset Wildlife Trust team gives more than 100% to their role. Nothing is too much trouble and the community is a much richer place for man and animal alike.”
To volunteer for Upton Heathwatch, please visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/heathwatch or ring 01202 692033