Wild Purbeck Monitoring
Summary & Outcomes
An Environment Report for Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area was produced over the three years of the NIA, this includes the following appendices. This biodiversity audit provides a baseline against which to assess future changes. The audit identified the known extent of priority habitats and species. Through this it was identified that further knowledge about the heathland resource was urgently needed, in particular the extent of habitats within designated sites. During the course of the last three years many of the key heathland sites have been surveyed and a new wet heathland inventory layer produced for the partner organisation.
A total of 100 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest within the Wild Purbeck NIA Project area have been surveyed during the 3 years of the project. SNCIs are Dorset’s Local Wildlife Sites, they are non-statutory sites and their positive management relies on the good stewardship of the landowners and tenants responsible for them. The project has provided owners with survey information and management ideas to help them in these choices, and where possible the project has helped to secure grant funding for management works.
Two of these are new sites; Duddle Heath, an area of heathland adjacent to the existing Black Heath SNCI which has been cleared of conifers through the NIA Heathland Restoration project and is being managed under an HLS agreement, and Broadmead Field near Worth Matravers, an area of semi-improved grassland with a good flora belonging to the National Trust.
Two sites have been deleted, in one case a heathland site which has deteriorated in quality over a number of years, and the other a small site near Swanage originally selected for supporting a population of the rare plant Galingale, but which has not been recorded there for a number of years, and could not be found during two consecutive surveys in 2013 and 2014.
Of the remainder, 17 sites have been extended by varying amounts, but most have been confirmed with their original boundary, although 30% of those surveyed had either declined in habitat quality since the previous survey, or were thought to be declining now.
An SNCI survey of all the existing sites on the Lulworth Estate has been completed for the first time, thanks to their kind cooperation. All the SNCIs on the Purbeck ridge have been re-surveyed, with the exception of parts of two sites where permission for survey was not given. The majority of sites in the Corfe Valley have also been re-surveyed, along with parts of Wareham Forest where a number of open heathland areas have been added to the SNCIs, based on areas already cleared by the Forestry Commission, and where their Forest Design Plans show that they will continue to be managed as open habitat.
The owners of every site surveyed have received the results, in the form of a full species list and a Management Statement (shown below) which provides them with a map and aerial photo of the site, a description of its wildlife importance, and advice on best management practice to maintain the wildlife interest.
In the case of the deleted site near Winfrith, the owner later contacted Dorset Wildlife Trust asking that she would like to try to restore some of the interest of the site, and requested a full Management Plan, which was produced. Volunteers have been engaged in a number of ‘citizen science’ species recording projects in the area, these include seashore surveys, wetland bird counts on the River Frome corridor, recording wildlife in gardens through ‘Wildlife on your Doorstep and of course the Cyril Diver project.