THREATENED grassland is being supported by Dorset Wildlife Trust, which is backing a campaign to review its protection.
Dorset grasslands found in West Dorset’s Kingcombe area, near Toller Porcorum, have inspired writers such as Thomas Hardy and are vital resources for wildlife and for people, as they allow landscapes to hold water and reduce flooding.
Grasslands also act as filters, and for Dorset, Kingcombe’s undisturbed and untreated grassland means clean water is flowing down through the River Hooke, into the River Frome. Living landscapes manager Debbie Watkins said: “As summer approaches we imagine walking through stunning wildflower meadows, playing sports in fields, or going for picnics.
“All these activities take place in grassland areas which has great value to each and every one of us, and to lose this would be devastating. Grasslands are undergoing decline, with immense pressures such as development, changes in agricultural practices and neglect leaving them fighting for survival.”
The small pearl bordered fritillary and the marsh fritillary butterflies are at risk from the decline of any species-rich grassland.
“DWT is working with Dorset’s landowners and farmers to advise them on how to manage grassland through our grassland restoration project, ‘Pastures New’, but we also need support at a national level through the Common Agricultural Policy to ensure farmers get the support they need to continue protecting grasslands in Dorset,” said Debbie.
The value of Dorset’s grassland has also been identified in national projects.
Kingcombe’s ‘Lady’s Mead’ meadow was selected as part of the ‘Coronation Meadows’ scheme in 2012, initiated by HRH the Prince of Wales in response to concerns over declining meadows in the UK.
Seeds from wildflowers in Lady’s Mead, which is a vital food source for wildlife, were taken and used to restore one of 60 new meadows in the UK to help secure wildflower heritage. To sign the Wildlife Trust’s petition to protect grassland visit wildlifetrusts.org/dontfadeaway.