South Dorset Constituency
What’s special and valuable about South Dorset’s natural environment?
With internationally important heathlands, the western shores of Poole Harbour, the limestone cliffs of Purbeck and Portland, and the historic South Dorset Ridgeway, the area’s outstanding natural heritage is a fantastic asset. The natural riches include beautiful meadows, heathlands, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands and a marine environment with an incredible array of wildlife habitats, including rare chalk reefs. It is the variety of habitats that make this area one of the most important sites for wildlife in the UK.
Brownsea Island, dramatically located in Poole Harbour, was voted the nation’s favourite nature reserve, and is famous for its red squirrels. Its thriving natural habitats including woodland, heathland and a lagoon create a unique haven for wildlife. It hosts a wide variety of birds, such as dunlin, kingfishers, common and Sandwich terns and oystercatchers, and little egrets first bred in the UK on the island.
The chalk downland on the Purbeck Ridge, the limestone grasslands of Portland, the Purbeck coast and the meadowland of the Lorton Valley are all rich in nationally important wildlife, such as the Adonis blue and six-spot burnet butterflies, and wildflowers such as the chalk milkwort and early spider orchid. These wildlife spectacles attract thousands of visitors to the area each year.
Habitats range from rocky reefs, with their corals and sponges, to sandy areas such as Studland Bay, where eelgrass meadows are home to rare species, including seahorses. Guillemots and puffins nest on the cliffs of Purbeck and bottlenose dolphins are seen from the shore.
The Frome valley is recognised nationally to have huge potential for wetland restoration, with benefits for society, economy and the environment. Purbeck is also an important national site for ponds.
Protecting and restoring nature in South Dorset
Restoring the marine environment: Restricting environmentally damaging activities and switching to low impact fishing techniques allows many marine habitats to recover. Evidence shows that creating Marine Conservation Zones allows marine life to thrive again. We need to designate an effective network of these protected areas to restore biodiversity and rebuild fish stocks.
Floodplains and wetlands protecting our homes and livelihoods: With climate change we face a wetter and stormier future. Nature can be our ally in adapting to increased flood risk, by making space for flood water and creating wetlands to protect infrastructure. This not only creates valuable natural habitats, but can be far more cost effective than traditional flood defence.
Nature rich meadows: At their best, meadows are rich in flowering plants and grasses, humming with insect life, and a fabulous part of our agricultural heritage. But we have lost almost all of what we once had. Hanging on to what we now have is an urgent task and we can do this with the right management, such as grazing or cutting for hay. Across the South West we have some great projects doing just this, but we need to connect and extend these sites.
What you can do
Please share the below questions with your local candidates, through social media, email or face to face, and ask other people who care about nature in your constituency, to do the same. This will give you a basis for keeping the natural environment on their agenda and let them know how important it is to you.
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