2023: A Wild Year for Dorset Wildlife Trust

As we reach the end of another wild year at Dorset Wildlife Trust, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the incredible work and achievements made possible by our supporters over the past twelve months.

We reintroduced species such as marsh clubmoss, an unassuming primitive plant that is endangered in the UK. This species was reintroduced at Upton Heath, Sopley Common and Tadnoll Heath and joins an existing population at Winfrith Heath – which had its highest count for many years.

It has been an excellent year for securing funding for nature's recovery. In September, we were delighted to receive a share of a £14.5 million grant from Natural England. It will enable us to recover some of Dorset’s most threatened species through practical interventions, creating and improving habitats across our nature reserves. At Upton Heath, Higher Hyde Heath and Tadnoll & Winfrith Heath, that means the creation of dry heathland scrapes where the sand lizard can lay its eggs. Over in the west, ponds will be created and restored at Kingcombe and Powerstock Common to benefit the great crested newt. And in the north of Dorset, woodland management will aim to provide more habitat for the fly orchid.

Over the summer, we were granted an extension to the Dorset Peat Project, led by Dorset Wildlife Trust. This £750,000 grant from Defra’s Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme was matched by £250,000 by other funders, for work on 16 sites across Dorset. As a result, 172 hectares of fragmented and damaged peatlands will be rewetted and restored, helping to lock away tonnes of Carbon in the future.

But 2023, was not without its challenges. The outbreak of Avian Flu on Brownsea Island this summer was heartbreaking. It struck right at the heart of the breeding season and took the lives of nearly 600 birds – mainly sandwich terns, common terns and black-headed gulls. It’s difficult to predict the long-term effects of the outbreak on future colonies next year, but we will monitor the lagoon islands carefully when the birds return for 2024’s breeding season.

Amongst the sadness, however, we saw signs of hope with two Avocet chicks fledging for the first time on the Island – an important reminder that nature is resilient.

Early in the year we kickstarted our Nextdoor Nature programme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This programme seeks to support people and communities across the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas to take care of communal areas that matter to them.

This year, we also launched our brand-new photography competition – and the response was incredible. The dazzling wildlife-themed photos, taken across Dorset by our brilliant members and supporters, will help encourage and inspire more people to protect Dorset’s precious wildlife and wild places.

We would like to say a big thank you to all staff, volunteers members and supporters for everything they have done this year for Dorset’s wildlife and wild places. Together, we look forward to another year of going wild in Dorset.

If you would like to discuss how your business can get involved with wildlife conservation, and support nature's recovery in Dorset, please contact fundraising@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.

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