above: a managed and species rich grassland SNCI in West Dorset © Mark James
below: scrub, thistles and rank grasses smother the more interesting plant species when a site is unmanaged © Mark James
A new report about Local Wildlife Sites around the UK has revealed that the habitat quality of 118 (9%) of Dorset’s Local Wildlife Sites have deteriorated significantly in the last five years.
Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC) records also show that in the last 10 years, 34 Local Wildlife Sites (called Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI’s) in Dorset) have been wholly or partially destroyed.
The report, called ‘Secret Spaces’, describes a variety of reasons why wildlife sites are lost or damaged
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) contributed to the report, called ‘Secret Spaces’, which has been published by The Wildlife Trusts, and describes a variety of reasons why wildlife sites are lost or damaged, including development, re-planting, ploughing and use of fertilisers. Many sites, such as heathland and unimproved grassland, whilst not deliberately damaged, become smothered in scrub and bracken, which contributes to degradation of the wildlife habitat, if left unmanaged.
There are lots of good quality wildlife sites in Dorset, but many are at risk from neglect, damage or development
DWT’s SNCI manager, Sharron Abbott said, “There are lots of good quality wildlife sites in Dorset, but many are at risk from neglect, damage or development. Many of these sites can be over-looked, but in fact have high quality habitat for a variety of wildlife and are our ‘secret spaces’. A local wildlife site could include a churchyard, or local community space, so it is very important they are cared for, not just for wildlife, but for people too.”
DWT recognises that many landowners are already working hard to maintain and protect Local Wildlife Sites
Sharron added, “DWT recognises that many landowners are already working hard to maintain and protect Local Wildlife Sites, but this is increasingly difficult due to the reduction in the Government’s grants to farmers and landowners to enable them to do this.”
Local Wildlife Sites are vital wildlife hotspots and provide important ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife between protected sites like SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest)
Local Wildlife Sites are vital wildlife hotspots and provide important ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife between protected sites like SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest). The Wildlife Trusts both locally and nationally will be urging local authorities and developers to fully recognise the importance of these sites in the planning process, and the Government to prioritise land management funding and advisory schemes to help landowners manage these important sites for the benefit of wildlife.
Read the ‘Secret Spaces’ report
If you want to find out more about how to care for a local wildlife space in Dorset, contact DWT’s Sharron Abbott on 01305 264620. To read the ‘Secret Spaces’ report, please click here
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620 or 07436158325.
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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.