Following Dorset’s biggest heath fire in thirty years, Dorset Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal to help restore Upton Heath. Two weeks ago on 9th June, 140 acres, around one third of the internationally important heathland near Poole, was devastated by fire. Experts estimate that it will take at least 10 years to see heathland re-established on the burnt area and many more before the full range of rare plants and animals returns.
What happened after the fire?
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, hundreds of local volunteers answered the call to help relocate surviving reptiles to unaffected areas of Upton Heath. Now conservationists face the task of managing the recovery of the ecosystem for the full range of rare plants and animals.
Andy Fale, Dorset Wildlife Trust Warden, said: “If action is not taken to begin the restoration of the damaged areas of the reserve and to carefully manage the re-growth of the heath, we may never see a full recovery of the many rare plants and animals it has become a haven for. It would be a tremendous loss for wildlife now and for the future. While we will see green shoots very quickly, this will be just the start of a long road to full recovery.”
Why was the fire such a disaster?
Upton Heath, which has been managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust for 13 years, is an important lowland heath, one of the rarest habitats in Britain. It is home to all 6 British reptile species, 19 species of dragonfly and damselfly, silver-studded blue butterflies, raft spiders, rare breeding birds including Dartford warbler, nightjar and hobby, rare plants such as marsh gentians as well as many mammals. The size, intensity and timing of the fire meant that many animals were burnt alive at the height of the breeding season, decimating important populations of rare animals and mammals such as deer and their young.
Andy added: “This fire should not be confused with controlled burning sometimes used on small areas of heathland during winter. Experts are agreed that this was nothing short of a disaster and it will take years of hard work to achieve a recovery for this precious site. This will cost money and time; now more than ever we need your support, so we urge you to dig deep to help the heath and the wildlife survivors of this tragic fire.”
How can I help and get involved?
Ways to support the Upton Heath appeal:
• visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/uptonheathappeal
• OR donate by texting WILD46 followed by the amount you want to give to 70070
• OR ring 01305 251464.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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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.
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The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) www.wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.