This month saw a historic moment for the future of Upton Heath, with the extension of traditional grazing to cover the whole site. The small herd of three rare breed Shetland cattle, unaware of the weight of responsibility on their shoulders, stepped out of the grazing unit in the southern part of the heath to play their part in the restoration and management of some of the rarest wildlife habitat in Britain, devastated by fire last year.
The small number of hardy grazing animals will now roam freely across the heath
The introduction of traditional heathland grazing has been made possible thanks to the generous donations of the public, following the blaze that devastated a third of the 500 acre site, and to funding from SITA Trust. The small number of hardy grazing animals will now roam freely across the heath, helping to keep vegetation in check, encouraging the return of heathland plants to the burnt area and also reducing the risk and spread of fire across the whole heath.
Andy Fale, Upton Heath Restoration Project Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, has looked after Upton Heath since 1998. He said: “Grazing is absolutely crucial to the long term management of the heath so I am absolutely delighted to see the Shetland cattle starting this work. We have had tremendous support from local people and we thank them for helping us to restore and protect Upton Heath for the future.”
The southern section of the heath has been fenced and grazed for several years and now the fencing extends to cover the whole site, with gates at all the access points to allow walkers, horse riders and nature lovers free access at all times. The Shetland Cattle will be joined by a small herd of around 5 rare breed British White Cattle during the winter, while the three Exmoor ponies continue to graze the southern section. Over £50,000 was raised by public appeal and this was instrumental in achieving further funding of nearly £120,000 from SITA Trust.
Andy Fale added: “We hope people will enjoy seeing the animals about but please do not feed them. They have plenty to eat and drink and are checked regularly. If you have any concerns about their welfare or would like to help with checking them, please ring 07823 534687.”
Find out more
If you would like to help protect Upton Heath from fire and other damage, you can join Heathwatch at dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/heathwatch or ring 01202 692033.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Andy Fale or Nigel Brooks 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 is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature
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.
For information on how to apply for funding from SITA Trust call (01454) 262910 or visit www.sitatrust.org.uk
SITA Trust is an independent funding body set up in 1997 to provide funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. To date SITA Trust has supported more than 3000 projects to a combined value of over £89 million.
Enhancing Communities - SITA Trust funding enhances communities in England, Scotland and Wales by supporting community driven projects to improve vital public recreation facilities such as village halls, community centres, sport, heritage, green spaces and play areas.
Enriching Nature - SITA Trust funding enriches nature by supporting biodiversity conservation projects in England’s 9 Biodiversity Regions. Projects must focus on species or habitats identified in the UK BAP process.
The Landfill Communities Fund
SITA Trust receives its funding through HM Government’s Landfill Communities Fund. Funding is donated by SITA UK, one of the nation’s largest recycling and resource management companies.
- Landfill tax was introduced in 1996 to encourage more sustainable ways of managing waste.
- The landfill tax legislation also brought about the Landfill Communities Fund. This scheme allows landfill operators to voluntarily donate 5.6% of their landfill tax liability to environmental improvement projects.
- The Landfill Communities Fund is independently regulated on behalf of HM Government’s Revenue & Customs by ENTRUST.
For media enquiries about SITA Trust please contact Jools Granville, Communications Manager on 01454 262940 mobile 07870 253048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org