(Above) Lady's Mead by Steve Davis (below) Small pearl boardered fritillary by Ken Dolbear MBE
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) will be supporting a campaign to review the protection for environmentally important grasslands across the UK, which includes one of Dorset’s few remaining large areas of grassland.
Grasslands found in west Dorset’s Kingcombe area are not only one of our finest natural heritages, which have inspired writers such as Thomas Hardy, but are also vital resources to wildlife and of great benefit to people, as they allow landscapes to hold water and reduce flooding. Grasslands also act as filters, and for Dorset, Kingcombe’s undisturbed and un-treated grassland means clean water is flowing down through the river Hooke, into the river Frome.
Grasslands are under-going decline
DWT’s West Dorset Living Landscapes Manager, Debbie Watkins said: “As summer approaches we imagine walking through stunning wildflower meadows, playing sports in fields, or going for picnics. All these activities take place in grassland areas which has great value to each and every one of us, and to lose this would be devastating. But grasslands are under-going decline, with immense pressures such as development, changes in agricultural practices and neglect leaving them fighting for survival.”
Wildlife at risk include barn owls, bees and butterflies
Wildlife such as the small pearl bordered fritillary and the marsh fritillary butterflies are at huge risk from the decline of any species-rich grassland. Barn owls, and other pollinators, including bees also depend on wild grasses and flowers, and could suffer from the loss of grassland.
Landowners need support
Debbie added: “DWT is working with Dorset’s landowners and farmers to advise them on how to manage grassland through our grassland restoration project, ‘Pastures New’, but we also need support at a national level through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to ensure farmers get the support they need to continue protecting grasslands in Dorset.”
Wildlflower meadow restoration projects will help
The value of Dorset’s grassland has also been identified in national projects. Kingcombe’s ‘Lady’s Mead’ meadow was selected as part of the ‘Coronation Meadows’ scheme in 2012, initiated by HRH the Prince of Wales in response to concerns over declining meadows in the UK. Seeds from wildflowers in Lady’s Mead, which is a vital food source for wildlife, were taken and used to restore one of 60 new meadows in the UK, to help secure wildflower heritage.
Sign the petition and find out more
To sign the Wildlife Trust’s petition asking for the Government to take full account of the remaining wildlife-rich grasslands and the threats they face whilst they make key decisions about the Common Agricultural Policy, click here.
For more information about DWT’s grassland restoration project, please click here
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620
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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.