Pearl-bordered Fritillary - now extinct in Dorset © Ken Dolbear MBE (above)
Sir David Attenborough © The Wildlife Trusts (below)
A ground-breaking study launched by Sir David Attenborough giving a health check for wildlife in the UK has revealed species of Dorset’s heathlands, marine areas, grasslands and coast which have experienced serious decline and in some cases, extinction.
The State of Nature report is the first of its kind - wildlife organisations across the UK, including Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Buglife and Butterfly Conservation looked at data for over 3,000 of our native species. The findings are clear: nature is in trouble. Nationally, 60% of the species studied have been declining over recent decades and more than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing.
In Dorset, a county which many think of as remaining rich in wildlife, a shocking number of species have faced extinction. In our woodland areas, the pearl-bordered fritillary and high brown fritillary butterflies have become extinct. Our coastal areas only have one wild asparagus plant remaining and the large garden bumblebee has now also disappeared from our gardens. Some historically common species are now rarely seen in Dorset; there is only one recent record of the Fan Mussel (Atrina Fragilis) and the tree sparrow is nearly extinct, with fewer than 20 pairs remaining.
Dorset’s lowland heathland area is much reduced from a historical figure of over 365,000 hectares to less than 6,000 hectares today. Whilst it isn’t easy to restore rare and declining species and habitats, targeted conservation has shown that there is hope. DWT has worked to protect and re-generate areas of declining heathland. Director of Conservation at the Dorset Wildlife Trust, Imogen Davenport said: “Dorset still has internationally important areas of heathland and a number of initiatives have helped protect, manage and re-connect them over recent years. For example our new Urban Wildlink project will help us and our partners acquire and manage major areas of heathland and protect the wildlife habitats now and for future generations.”
The stag beetle, which is globally threatened, can be found in Bournemouth and DWT is encouraging people to record stag beetles and other wildlife on their patch through our Wildlife on Your Doorstep scheme you don’t need to be an expert but this work is vital in monitoring threatened species.
We want the nature and wildlife of Dorset to have a future. By becoming members of Dorset Wildlife Trust for as little as £2.65 a month, local people can really help nature conservation work in the county. DWT volunteers and partner organisations are already taking positive steps forward daily to protect our wildlife and habitats in Dorset, but we all need to increase our involvement to care for and monitor our wildlife to stop more species declining. It can be very rewarding - volunteers from Dorset Otter Group helped track the recovery of the otter in the county from being almost extinct in the 1970’s, to now being on every major river catchment.
By maintaining high quality habitats, threatened species have more of a chance. The State of Nature report indicates nature is in trouble, but it’s not too late.
Ways you can help nature...
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
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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.