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Dorset Wildlife Trust – Pastures New Project

Location:Kingcombe, Dorchester


Livestock:Various breeds and types of livestock

In brief:A multi – objective landscape scale partnership project funded by Tubney Charitable Trust and others focusing in part on achieving long – term, sustainable grazing management of unimproved grassland sites within the project areas. The project also aims to foster partnership working with local farmers, set up a machinery ring, harvest and use local wildflower seed in habitat restoration work and facilitate marketing of added value environmental products.

Contact:Emily Newton

Tel:01300 321329


The aim of Pastures New is to use a targeted approach over 5 years to rebuild wildlife rich landscapes in West Dorset. A range of UK BAP Priority habitats will be restored to a good condition, new areas of Priority habitat will be created, and maintained through the establishment of sustainable management systems.

Key areas of activity will be:

• Working alongside landowners to maintain, restore and create Priority habitats
• Targeting agri-environmental advice and assistance with grant applications to landowners within selected Strategic Nature Areas (SNA)
• Establishing and operating mechanisms to facilitate restoration work – primarily through a new seed harvesting initiative and machinery ring
• Facilitating sustainable means of managing Priority habitats through establishment and co-ordination of a Grazing Animals Project, generating local voluntary action and rural skills training

‘Pastures New’ is an ambitious project. The project area, which includes 20 separate chalk downland and neutral grassland SNA’s, is 25,509ha. The headline target is to work with landowners and farmers to ensure 2,765ha of land is positively managed for grassland creation, enhancement and conservation.

The project will primarily be targeting priority grassland habitats including Lowland Calcareous Grassland and Lowland Meadow, however significant benefits are anticipated for associated UK BAP priority habitats, particularly Lowland Dry Acid Grassland, and Purple Moor-grass and Rush Pasture. There will a specific emphasis on key species dependent on the focal grassland habitat including Pink Meadow-cap, Early Gentian, Adonis Blue, Marsh Fritillary and Skylark.

Confidence that this is the right time for a large scale initiative in Dorset is based on evidence gathered during a ‘development phase’ and on the establishment of a Local Area Agreement with Government Office for the South West and Dorset County Council, to ‘restore Dorset’s wildlife and heritage rich grasslands’. As a result, a number of relevant initiatives have been trialled, the past extent of chalk grasslands across the county has been mapped, initial contact has been made with landowners within selected SNA’s and a delivery partnership, consisting of governmental and non-governmental organisations, has been formed.

The suite of activities within Pastures New provide direct practical action to both halt and reverse the decline of wildlife habitats in this area within five years. As the start of a long-term commitment to this area, this project will lay strong foundations for wildlife-rich, resilient and ecologically functional landscapes in West Dorset into the future.