Dorset Wildlife Trust has secured National Nature Reserve status for its nature reserves at Kingcombe Meadows and Powerstock Common. The two adjoining areas are known for their remarkable natural habitats and wide range of species. The combined NNR, encompassing 309 hectares of grassland, woodland and scrub habitat, includes two Sites of Special Scientific Interest and recognises these as nationally and internationally important landscapes.
Kingcombe Meadows were bought by the Wildlife Trust in 1987, having previously been a working farm managed solely using traditional techniques. The meadows are still run as an organic farm, grazed by sheep and cattle and managed without artificial fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. So, the farm teems with wildlife – dormice in the hedgerows, linnets and yellowhammers singing in the trees, unimproved grassland peppered with wildflowers such is bee orchid, lady’s mantle, pepper saxifrage, and devil’s bit scabious.
Powerstock Common has long been managed by the Wildlife Trust, starting in 1964 by agreement with the Forestry Commission. Over the decades, the Trust has removed large plantations of mixed conifers, returning these areas to grassland and wood pasture. This has increased the biodiversity and provided a range of habitats, with ‘edges’ where woodland, scrub and scattered trees meet the open grassland. This is particularly important for foraging bats, while a network of ponds within the grassland and scrub supports amphibians, with toads, frogs and all three species of native newt breeding on site.
Designation as a National Nature Reserve will bring recognition and the increased likelihood of research within the reserve in order to advance understanding of particular species, habitats and natural processes. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the Kingcombe Centre, and there is free public access on foot and horseback to Powerstock Common.
Read more (Dorset Wildlife Trust)
[Images on this page from Dorset Wildlife Trust and Dorset AONB]