Summary & Outcomes
The original aim was to produce a community guided visitor management strategy for WPNIA which identified opportunities for visitors and locals to appreciate the high quality biodiversity without detrimental impacts, and specifically look at three key sites: Arne / Middlebere / Hartland Moor; Greenlands; and Wareham Forest.
During year 1, methodology was agreed for the surveys. During the summer of 2013, surveys were undertaken at 21 sites in three key areas: Wareham Forest, Studland (excluding the beach area) and Arne / Hartland Moor. 676 questionnaires were completed over 672 hours. Surveys were carried out at each site for four days: on a weekday and weekend day during the school term (May – June) and during the summer holidays (late July / August). Car park surveys were undertaken at three different times of day, to ascertain the numbers of cars in all car parks around the area. GPS equipment was purchased to capture visitor route data.
The data collected was analysed by Footprint Ecology, and three reports were produced:
- Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area: visitor survey analysis, providing an in depth report as to how the key sites are being used, and by which visitors
- Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area: case studies (of Wareham Forest, Greenlands Farm at Studland, and Arne / Hartland Moor), including a map showing different management recommendations for recreational provision in each area
- Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area: recommendations towards a visitor management strategy, including strategic recommendations about how visitor management in Purbeck can be approached to provide meaningful engagement with the natural environment while safeguarding vulnerable features and wildlife
Highlights and challenges
The survey work was originally planned to be carried out by volunteers, to reduce the cost of the work. However, attracting sufficient numbers of volunteers proved challenging. Ironically this appeared to be partly due to the success of other Wild Purbeck projects such as the Cyril Diver project and Community Gateway in attracting volunteers! As a result, some survey time had to be bought in to fill in the gaps, which was not ideal.
There were also some delays due to staff changes, which resulted in the surveys being delayed by a year.
The visitor management working group which included the National Trust, RSPB and Forestry Commission, is continuing to meet, and looking to implement key proposals contained in the report. Priority areas include a heathland hub project and a recreation forum.