'Extraordinary' Dorset habitat restoration sees Red-listed birds return


A suite of Red-listed birds has moved onto a piece of barren land since it was acquired by Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT).

Eight species on the Red List are breeding at Wild Woodbury at Bere Regis after it was allowed to naturally regenerate. DWT gained the 170-ha site in June 2021, when it was being intensively farmed. Wilder Dorset project manager Rob Farrington said the change since had been "extraordinary".

Yellowhammer is one of many species to benefit from the habitat restoration at Wild Woodbury (Walter Schulenburg).

Previously its fields had high levels of fertiliser, herbicides, and pesticides, making little space for species to thrive. Among the threatened bird species recorded are Common Cuckoo, Whinchat and European Nightjar. Eurasian Skylarks have increased from two to 18, while Yellowhammers and Tree Pipits also bred.

DWT said the the dry spring and an increase of invertebrates had helped make it a "very positive breeding season for birds". Mr Farrington said: "The aim of rewilding Wild Woodbury is to build an exemplar for sustainable land use to tackle the climate and ecological crises, letting nature take the lead as much as possible, and the restoration of natural processes on the site should provide the right conditions for many species to return in greater numbers over the coming years.

"Restoring a landscape and making space for nature on this scale takes time of course, but it is extraordinary to see all that has been achieved in just one year, and to witness the abundance of wildlife which has made its home at Wild Woodbury."

On top of this, 300 species of beetles, bugs and spiders have been logged.