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Rewilding Dorset Wildlife Trust
Some of the land at Bere Regis that will be part of the rewilding project.
Photo: James Burland/Dorset Wildlife Trust

Dorset Wildlife Trust is today launching a major fundraising appeal for England’s first large-scale community rewilding project, on 170 hectares of land near Bere Regis purchased earlier this year through the Wilder Dorset initiative.

As vital surveying gets underway to uncover the secrets of the site, the wildlife charity is appealing for donations to support this ground-breaking project. Carrying out repeatable baseline surveys with urgency is key to understanding how wildlife and the land respond in years to come. These studies will reveal which species are already at the site, the water quality and quantity and the make-up of the soil.

The exciting vision for the project includes the creation of 11 hectares of new community woodland and 30 hectares of new wetland, alongside a new community orchard, space to grow food sustainably, plus room for visitors and locals to explore the wild and forge a deep connection with nature.

Further plans for transforming the landscape from being intensively managed to letting nature take the lead will be developed in conjunction with the surrounding community, giving local people more opportunities to connect with nature while also benefitting local wildlife. This will include meeting directly with the community in Bere Regis, connecting with existing local groups and creating new local volunteer groups.

This flagship project aims to provide inspiration and guidance for further rewilding projects around the country, so data gathered in these early stages is crucial to inform and support similar projects, opening up new space for wildlife throughout Britain and beyond.

Using rewilding principles on this large site will mean that species such as yellowhammers and orchids, already present on site and nearby, will gain the space and restored habitat they need to thrive.

Rewilding and rewetting land on this scale will also contribute to tackling the climate crisis by increasing the amount of carbon held in healthy soils, woodlands and wetlands. Habitat restoration will enable the site’s soils to capture more carbon, and the Trust aims to measure the change over time to demonstrate the impact and help advise other land managers.

Yellowhammer - Chris Gomersall/2020VISION
A Yellowhammer.
Photo: Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Brian Bleese, Dorset Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, said: ‘Making more space for wildlife and nature is vital in addressing the climate and ecological crises. We want to see 30% of land and sea available for nature by 2030. Through Wilder Dorset we will work with the local community to transform 170 hectares of former farmland into a haven for wildlife, making a major contribution to bringing back nature in Dorset.’

Dr Rob Stoneman, Director of Landscape Recovery at The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘This is a stunningly ambitious rewilding project – the first of its kind in south-west England – and the opportunities to restore the abundance and diversity in the area can now happen. This scale of ambition has never been more important as it comes at a time when the UK must dig deep to tackle the climate and nature crisis. Everyone can do their bit to help and how better than to reverse nature’s decline and help store carbon in the process? This inspirational project deserves our support – please donate if you can!’

To donate to this ground-breaking project and find out more, visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/RewildingDorset.

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