Your donation today will help create, and link-up, vital wildlife corridors in north Dorset with the rest of the county; giving many wildlife species the best possible chances of survival. We will also use any donations as match-funding for grants for this work, meaning that for every £1 you give, an additional £3 can be released.
Your valuable contribution could be used in the following ways:
Thank you. Your donation will support 5 initiatives that will help wildlife make a difference in north Dorset:
1. Great crested newts
The UK's populations of the great crested newt are internationally important and north Dorset is a stronghold for them. However, this iconic species has disappeared from many sites due to habitat loss and intensification of farming practises. Great crested newts need suitable ponds surrounded by rough grassland, scrubland, hedges and woodland for refuge and foraging. In recent years DWT has surveyed and helped to restore many ponds in north Dorset. Ponds and hedgerows are priority habitats providing essential stepping-stones for wildlife to move around the landscape.
We'd like to expand this work and continue to restore more ponds, clearing them of silt and overgrown vegetation. In addition, we aim to link habitats by filling hedgerow gaps and creating buffers of longer tussocky grass at the sides of fields for great crested newts to forage in. This will help establish a network of wildlife corridors for the newts and other wildlife to navigate.
Once found across England and Wales, dormice are now largely restricted to southern England and their population is thought to have declined by a third since the year 2000. Dormice depend on diverse woodland and well-connected networks of hedges for nesting, hibernating and providing an ample food supply. The loss and degradation of such habitat has driven their decline.
Your support will help us to protect this vulnerable species by funding traditional forestry methods such as coppicing at our woodland nature reserves and erecting deer fencing to protect trees. Our woodland sites will be a key part of Dorset's network of wildlife-friendly corridors. At Ashley Wood we also want to invest in installing footprint tunnels to help us to more accurately survey and monitor the dormouse population.
3. Silver-spotted skippers
The rare silver-spotted skipper survives in the chalk downs of southern England where it can be seen darting low over short turf, stopping frequently to bask on bare ground or feed on wildflower nectar. Populations have declined such that today DWT's Fontmell Down nature reserve is the only site in Dorset where you can find the silver-spotted skipper.
To ensure that this iconic butterfly species does not disappear we need your support to carefully manage the chalk grassland and continue surveying the site. Scrub species such as gorse and bramble, which act as barriers for this species, need to be cleared and hay cut to encourage the important chalk grassland flora to grow, giving the silver-spotted skipper colonies and other calcareous-specialist wildlife the ideal conditions to spread.
4. Water voles
Water voles are a vital part of river ecosystems. Their burrowing, feeding and movements help to create conditions for other riparian animals and plants to thrive. However, the future of this charming riverside mammal is in peril; the water vole needs urgent help to survive in the UK. They have suffered huge declines as a result of habitat loss, pollution of waterways, industrialisation of agriculture, housing development and predation by American mink. Despite these threats, the River Stour catchment in north Dorset remains a stronghold for water voles.
Your support will ensure that Dorset Wildlife Trust can work with the Dorset Wild Rivers partnership in the area, to create linking habitats including wet grassland, floodplain meadow and wet woodland to help water voles and other vital river species adapt to climate change.
5. Gillingham Royal Forest project
The Royal Forest was established for hunting pursuits after the Norman Conquest in 1066. This ancient landscape of over 3,000 hectares of north Dorset is rich and varied with ancient hedgerows, pasture and woods containing a high density of veteran trees, ponds and chalk stream headlands. It's also home to protected wildlife species such as water voles, great crested newts, otters and other important species including dormice and barn owls.
With your help Dorset Wildlife Trust will work with partners and engage with local communities and landowners to safeguard these significant wildlife habitats and ensure they link across the landscape, providing havens for many wildlife species for future generations.
Thank you for your help.
We would like to thank: Terry Whittaker 2020 vision, Ken Dolbar MBE, B Edwards, Stewart Canham and James Hitchin for use of their photographs.