Summary & Outcomes
This project aimed to restore 71 Ha of high quality heathland through increased management and aftercare. 26 Ha were cleared in the first year at Wareham and Affpuddle, and enhanced aftercare (including raking and Rhododendron clearance) carried out the following winter. Felling has been undertaken in Rempstone Forest during 2014, with enhanced aftercare over the winter of 2014/15.
Highlights and challenges
The Purbeck Forest Design Plan and accompanying Environmental Statement was submitted to Forest Services, and work was delayed until the plan was finalised. This was remedied by increasing the area to be restored in year 3, enabling the project to meet its original targets. At Rempstone Forest, some areas had to be initially avoided due to the presence of nesting raptors, but these were worked at a later date.
The FC, through its approved Forest Design Plans for its Dorset heathland forests, have committed to over 1000 hectares of further heathland restoration from existing plantations over the next 20 years. This will see a major expansion of heathland at Rempstone Forest to extend the areas delivered under the NIA project.
Lowland heathland is a priority habitat and can generally be found in open landscape on impoverished, acidic mineral and shallow peat soil, which is characterised by the presence of plants such as heathers and dwarf gorses. Areas of heathland in good condition should consist of a heather species layer of varying heights and structures, plus some or all of the following additional features, scattered and clumped trees and scrub; bracken; areas of bare ground; areas of acid grassland; lichens; gorse; wet heaths, bogs and open waters.
Lowland heathland can develop on drift soils and weathered flint beds over calcareous soils (limestone or chalk heath). Lowland heathland is a dynamic habitat which undergoes significant changes in different successional stages, from bare ground (e.g. after burning or tree clearing) and grassy stages, to mature, dense heath.
The presence and numbers of characteristic birds, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, bryophytes and lichens are important indicators of habitat quality.