A fire on Upton Heath yesterday damaged a hectare of one of the rarest habitats in Britain, just as the bird and reptile breeding season is getting underway.
An area bigger than a football pitch was burnt
The fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately, was reported by a local resident at around 4.30pm, on a central part of the Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve. An area bigger than a football pitch was burnt, before firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control. The damage occurred on an area that escaped the large fire of last June.
Dorset Wildlife Trust warden, Andy Fale, said: “This was a very worrying situation, with such dry conditions and right in the middle of the heath. Without the swift action of Dorset Fire and Rescue, it could have developed into a major disaster for wildlife just as birds are nesting and reptiles are up and about. We are very grateful to the local residents who sounded the alarm and helped prevent further destruction of this vulnerable habitat. We would appeal to local people who visit Upton Heath regularly to consider joining our new Heathwatch scheme to help us stop this happening again.”
helping to act as extra eyes and ears for the wardens
The neighbourhood-watch style Heathwatch scheme will see local people out and about this season, 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. It 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.
To volunteer for Upton Heathwatch, please visit click here or ring 01202 692033.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact The Kingcombe Centre at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01300 320684.
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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.
Male sand lizard- Steve Davis
Dartford Warbler - Steve Davis