Wild Woodbury project records 1,300 species on site in just a year

The land at Bere Regis has been allowed to regenerate naturally

Author: Mohammed FaizPublished 3 hours ago
Last updated 3 hours ago

A year into the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Wild Woodbury restoration project at Bere Regis, surveys have revealed an increase in biodiversity and species richness migrating to the site.

In the past year, the land has been able to regenerate naturally, increasing biodiversity and wildlife abundance.

Staff and volunteers recorded over 1,300 species in this summer’s surveys, and eight Red List birds of conservation importance have been confirmed to breed at Wild Woodbury.

A dry spring combined with the increase in invertebrates attracted by the rapidly emerging pollinators in the former farmland has resulted in a very positive breeding season for birds.

An increasing number of young birds have been sighted throughout the site, including cuckoos, whinchats and nightjars.

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Skylarks have gone from two singing males last year to 18 in 2022; 28 yellowhammers were recorded (no data for 2021); No tree pipits were recorded in 2021, but a breeding pair has been sighted raising juveniles this year.

All three are on the Red List Birds of Conservation Concern compiled by a coalition of the UK’s leading bird conservation and surveillance organizations including the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology.

Red List birds are classified as vulnerable species, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

Butterfly transects have tracked more than 200 meadow brown butterflies as well as silver-washed fritillaries and newly hatched painted lady butterflies on the wing.

Wild Woodbury at Bere Regis in July 2022

The hot weather in July and August also increased moth activity, with traps containing hundreds of individuals and attracting some rarer species such as the dingy mocha.

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In just a few sessions, invertebrate specialists have amassed over 300 species of beetles, beetles and spiders, some of which have only a handful of previous records in Dorset.

Large clumps of the country’s rare flora, lesser quaking grass, have emerged, which provide an excellent food source for many finches, including goldfinches, linnets and yellowhammers.

Narrow-leaved lungwort, red hempnettle and three species of orchids, including southern orchid, are found on the site, as well as small populations of cobalt encrusted fungi.

Wilder Dorset project manager Rob Farrington said:

“The aim of rewilding Wild Woodbury is to build a paragon of sustainable land use to address the climate and environmental crises – letting nature take the lead as much as possible and restoring natural processes to the site should provide the right conditions for many species provide return in larger numbers in the coming years.

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“Of course, restoring a landscape and making room for nature on this scale takes time, but it is extraordinary to see all that has been achieved in just one year and to witness the abundance of wildlife living in the wild Woodbury are at home.

“Our plans for next year include restoring the Sherford River to allow it a more natural course across the country, reducing nutrient pollution carried into Poole Harbor and creating wetlands for wildlife, while sequestering carbon in wetter soils, Establish mixed grazing on the land and develop 35 acres of land for local people.”

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