from Nigel Spring –
Since 2012 a team of volunteers and contractors working through EuCAN Community Interest Company and Butterfly Conservation has been working on the chalk downland sites between Lyons Gate and Godmanstone to remove the invading bushes and trees that are threatening to destroy the last vestiges of this incredibly biodiverse habitat in this area of Dorset. The plumes of smoke from the hillsides on Thursdays between September and March cannot have gone unnoticed.
This work has been generously funded by the Patsy Wood Trust and the landowners themselves – these funds have enabled EuCAN to bring the mixed bunch of contractors with power tools, people from neighbouring towns with learning difficulties and in recovery from mental illness, as well the carers and a number of local EuCAN and Butterfly Conservation volunteers. It has all been great fun (especially the sausages and baked potatoes for lunch and the cakes for tea!) and we have been extremely pleased with the results.
To date, we have held over 50 sessions on 9 different sites and have involved 130 different people. Not only have we made a great impact on the ecology of the sites we have visited, but the participants have learned new skills, seen some wonderful wildlife and have had the benefit of the fresh air and exercise that probably they would not normally get (most of our sites are on 45˚ or 60 ˚ slopes, often very challenging!).
But why is this amount of effort necessary now? It has not always been the case and I shall try to explain why….
This is the first of four articles. Keep an eye out for the rest of the story!
Further information can be found on the EuCAN website http://www.eucan.org.uk/uk/dorset/cerne-valley-project/