Wild Woodbury announced as new name for Dorset rewilding project

Wild Woodbury announced as new name for Dorset rewilding project

Court farm aerial - James Burland/Dorset Wildlife Trust

Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce Wild Woodbury as the new name for its 170-hectare community rewilding project in the heart of Dorset.

The name was chosen after consultation with local community groups, Trust members and staff. The new name reflects the plans to rewild 150 hectares of the site, including 30 hectares of wetland restoration. The site near Bere Regis, purchased earlier this year, was previously known as Court Farm (although not all of the land purchased was historically part of Court Farm itself). A fundraising appeal for £100,000 to kick-start the rewilding process, including vital baseline monitoring, is in progress with just over 50% of the total raised in its first two weeks. 

‘Woodbury’ is a historic name used in the local area, with the site of an Iron Age hillfort known as Woodbury Hill hillfort overlooking much of the land on the new site. The historic Woodbury Hill Fair also features significantly in the history of Bere Regis. The fair ran for almost 700 years from the 1200s until 1951. At its peak, the fair attracted thousands of visitors from a wide area. The new name honours this rich history along with the new, wilder future for the site. 

Wilder Dorset Project Officer, Rob Farrington, said: 

“We were overwhelmed with feedback from the community, with fantastic suggestions ranging from more obvious choices to some amazingly original ideas. Overall, the feedback was clear with Woodbury being a front-runner. This was unsurprising as it is the name most associated with the land itself. The site has eight fields which include the name ‘Woodbury’ in their historical name. Woodbury Hill hillfort dominates the skyline from almost everywhere on the land and from its summit you can see the whole site. Woodbury Hill hillfort has been the constant in the landscape for thousands of years, which has resulted in a huge number of local buildings, farms and fields being named after it. 

“Feedback was also clear that the community favoured the use of the word ‘Wild’ for the new name, in line with the vision to let nature take the lead on this site.”

The Trust intends to continue to work closely with the community in and around Bere Regis as the project develops, as well as creating volunteer groups to involve local people in bringing the plans to life on the site in the future. You can find out more about the plans for the site and support the project by donating to the urgent fundraising appeal at dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/RewildingDorset.