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Dorset is rich in wetlands, with 5% of England’s reedbeds and some stunning rivers and streams. Other important wetland habitats include wet grasslands, fens and marshes.

Some of Dorset’s rivers are particularly special as they are chalk streams – a globally rare habitat. The Dorset Winterbournes Project focuses on two of these chalk streams.

Poole Harbour supports over 28,000 birds and is internationally important for black-tailed godwit and shelduck. It is one the largest breeding sites for redshank in the south west.

Wetland wildlife includes the elusive otter, the rare water vole, trout, salmon and freshwater crayfish, plants like water crowfoot and many birds and invertebrates.

As well as supporting a wealth of wildlife, rivers and wetlands add much to the landscape beauty of the AONB.

Top Dorset Wetlands to Visit

Threats to Wetland Wildlife

  • Inappropriate management of rivers and wetlands
  • Low river flows
  • Poor water quality
  • Spread of non-native and invasive plants and animals, e.g. mink

How to help wetland wildlife

  • Get water wise! Save water in your home and garden to make sure there’s enough left to support watery wildlife. Visit Wessex Water or the Environment Agency to find out how.
  • Stick to native plants in your garden pond. Non-native plants can be spread by animals into wild ponds and rivers where they can take over and cause chaos!
  • Become a volunteer and help find rare watery wildlife. Contact Dorset Wildlife Trust for further information.
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