Planet Purbeck is circulating a survey to give local people the unique oppportunity to tell us what they want from our countryside
Post-Brexit, landowners and farmers in England will no longer receive EU money for traditional farming. Instead, the UK government will be providing funding when the land also provides 'public goods' by protecting the environment. Actions range from maintaining peatland to conserving hedgerows and assessing soils.
Overall this will mean more thriving nature, clean water, healthy soils, public access, local food and creation of jobs. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to reset the balance in our countryside. For the first time in decades, land management that protects nature and provides opportunities for local people will be rewarded.
But what about our farmers? For many farmers this is a time of real worry; changing how your farm runs isn’t easy: if we want a healthy living countryside, we need to support our farmers making this transition to a more nature and local community focussed way of managing the land.
The Wild Purbeck Partnership (WPP) exists to help with this transition. WPP is a group of landowners, farmers and environmental organisations, working together to deliver countryside change that benefits nature and local people.
WPP’s vision is a wilder countryside brimming with nature that is resilient to climate change; but it is also for local people to feel that this landscape is theirs. Managed well, a wilder countryside and coast can provide better jobs and improve the wellbeing of all who live here. Ultimately, WPP wants to deliver a countryside that benefits nature and people.
Why is Planet Purbeck conducting this survey? Put simply, we want local people to have a say in how their coast and countryside will change. We want to hear your hopes, dreams and any fears!
What happens to the results of the survey? We will share the results of this survey with WPP who have committed to respond. Anyone who attends The Planet Purbeck Festival (14th - 25th Sept 2023) will get to see early results from the responses we’ve collected so far.
Closing date: The survey officially closes 30th Sept 2023.
Let's create a Purbeck countryside and coast that benefits local people as well as nature!
A highly anticipated and captivating programme of local & national guest speakers & short films. There will only be 380 free places so save the date & stay tuned for more details!
Tickets just released....
Our most popular event is back for 2023.......
‘A Celebration of Purbeck’
Sat 23rd Sept 7-9pm - Mowlem Theatre Swanage
This is a FREE event but donations are of course, welcome!
Here’s why this event is not be missed!
1. First showing of our latest film ‘Purbeck -Let’s Go Wild!’ celebrating the beautiful area we live in, starring local people, children & young people. We guarantee there won’t be a dry eye in the theatre...
This film is being made right now by Planet Purbeck’s resident filmmaker Sue Western, who has created wildlife films for Netflix, BBC and even written scripts for David Attenborough!
2. Change is coming.....be the first to hear about the groundbreaking changes happening to Purbeck's countryside and coast..... right now and in the future!
3. Spend an evening with the charming and effortlessly cool Nadeem Perera - wildlife TV presenter, author, activist and co-founder of the birdwatching collective, Flock Together.
Nadeem is already making a splash on the BBC as the new face of wildlife TV. He’s recently appeared on Springwatch, and David Attenborough’s Wild Isles plus One Zoo Three.. on CBBC. Nadeem’s greatest success has been his ability to inspire people beyond the traditional white middle class nature groups and reach new diverse and younger audiences! He’s now one of the most sought after voices in the Wildlife industry and beyond, so we are very chuffed we’ve persuaded him to co-host our event! : )
4. Plus lots more award winning films and passionate local speakers highlighting how nature recovery can benefit both nature and local people!
If any of this excites you in the slightest…….join us!
If you can donate - please choose a ticket with donation at check out to support us - thank you
Festival will be going ahead in honour of our late Queen
Planet Purbeck wishes to offer the Royal Family its sincere condolences on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
During our upcoming festival, Planet Purbeck will honour our late Queen by asking all event hosts to hold a minute’s silence at the beginning of each event until her funeral, and by pausing all events on the day of the funeral.
We look forward to coming together as a community to honour our late Queen.
Hedging our bets - investing in nature
Hedgerows are important because they provide vital corridors for our wildlife. Many species rely on hedgerows for shelter and food. Protecting our hedgerows and strategically laying more of them will directly benefit the preservation of wildlife in Purbeck.
We want to say a big thank you to everyone who attended the Planet Purbeck hedge laying training in January. By all accounts it was a real success, so thank you, everyone, for your enthusiasm and commitment.
In particular, we'd like to thank Dave and James from Planet Purbeck for their planning and coordination of the event. Also, thank you to Collette (from Langton Planet Action and Planet Purbeck) for supplying delicious lemon and poppy seed cake (with eggs from a neighbour, and seeds from her allotment!).
Thanks to the allotment association for the use of the compost toilet (which has been rated as 'rather posh'), and to Chris and Sue Spilling for helping with equipment and supplies which were incredibly valuable. What a fantastic team effort, and an inspiring coming-together of great people and skills!
Thank you to all the local artists who donated work and for everyone who placed bids at our fundraising auction during the 2021 Planet Purbeck Festival. The funds raised at the auction have gone directly into this project.
Lastly, a huge thanks to Ali Tuckey from Durlston Country Park, Aemelia and Andy from National Trust for so generously sharing their time and talent, we are so lucky that they offered us this opportunity and hope to build on the skills and knowledge they have imparted.
So, what next? Join us at our next hedge-planting volunteer session on the 19th and 20th Feb in Corfe. And look forward to more hedge-laying opportunities when the season starts again this autumn!
Every community needs someone like Sarah. She trained as a psychiatric nurse, but her energies seem to buoy up so many different projects in Purbeck; from organising local responses to COVID to fund-raising for the charity ‘Will Does’. She even fits in an early morning dip. I caught up with her in one of her favourite Purbeck places, King George’s Playing Field in Swanage, where she sometimes meets with fellow dog-walker and retired Swanage lighthouse attendant, Michael O’Sullivan.
Sarah has travelled all over the world, but it was when starting a family, that she and her husband realised they wanted to live somewhere with a real sense of community and with good values. She remembered visiting Swanage on the steam train during a family holiday and the penny dropped. ‘Everything I wanted for my kids is here,’ she says.
Sarah believes that if you show willingness and are prepared to muck in, you’ll go far. She says she’s always tried to teach her children that you don’t have to be qualified, or skilled in some special way, to offer help. By throwing yourself into something, you might discover a capability you never knew you had.
The night before we met, Sarah had organised a board games night at Herston. It included a couple of people who were new to the area, and who went away feeling warmly welcomed in. Last year, she helped make and distribute 1000 face masks to vulnerable people and to care homes. The Will Does charity is very close to her heart. It was set up to honour a friend of her son’s, Will, who died a few years ago. From the over sixties to the under sixteens, Sarah has the verve and charm to help make a difference Her social intelligence and sense of fun is contagious – in a good way!!
Walking into Will Spicer’s barn-sized forge is a revelation. His tools and techniques are not just a blast from the past, they’re a testament to how to build a future. Will arrived in Purbeck after a family tragedy and suffering from anxiety. He has re-built his confidence through blacksmithing, and teaching these skills to others, by setting up the Veterans’ Forge, a community interest company. Will recycles metal: copper boilers, tank tracks, bolts and gun barrels, and turns them into attractive flowers, benches, and memorial plaques. Making things, he tells me, is therapeutic; taking a straight piece of metal and bending it to become something else, is uplifting. He also believes the beautiful landscape has been part of his recovery; that the rolling Purbeck hills are good for the soul.
Will works with other charities, and with people with disabilities, and has adapted the forge so that everyone can feel comfortable there. Under his patient supervision, people from all walks of life - not just army veterans - can find joy in creating things. Blacksmithing is an art, he tells me. Just as a musician might learn different chords on a guitar, or a painter practices a variety of brush strokes, a blacksmith has to master various disciplines of metal-working, including reading the different colour hues of hot metal. It can’t be rushed. Everyone learns at their own speed. Will has created a calm space for others to realise their own potential. Thoughtful, and wise, Will is just one of the many people who make Purbeck such a special place to live.
HEAD OF SCIENCE, FOOD, and NUTRITION at THE SWANAGE SCHOOL
During her first teaching job, Sam accompanied an A-level biology field trip to Purbeck. When the minibus stopped at a viewpoint, Sam remembers thinking: ‘I am going to live here one day!’ Now, she is not just teaching students about the natural world she loves so much, she is actively shaping the Purbeck community.
For a biology teacher, Purbeck is the dream place. It’s amazing, she says, but, like most of us, young people grow up thinking their home area is the ‘norm’. As Sam helps connect students to the many remarkable and special places in this small corner of Britain, she is re-kindling an excitement and pride in the area.
Within the curriculum, Sam realised she didn’t need to draw on examples from the other side of the planet. Life lessons lie right under her students’ feet. Purbeck contains so many different habitats; world-famous geological formations; unique heathlands; Britain’s rarest reptiles; marine mammals; nesting puffins; and the possibility of Ospreys nesting in Poole harbour. Sam has taken school groups to the Dynamic Dunescapes project, and her students have designed signage for the new grazing regimes on Studland heath. Older students are skilling themselves up about next year’s beaver reintroduction project at Studland and passing on their insights to younger children.
She already sees her pupils taking greater interest and care in what happens to the local environment, and many students are interested in jobs in environmental management and conservation.
Sam believes that the best learning happens at the human scale and that taking care of ourselves, both body and mind, allows us to better care for the environment and the people around us. On the Swanage School grounds, she’s started an allotment and helps manage a forest school area – a small but important sanctuary for students who are feeling the inevitable pressures of life.
Sam’s commitment, and her community ethos, are helping connect students more deeply to the world on their doorstep.
Intensive Agriculture and Biodiversity at Wild Woodbury
Guest Post by Seb Haggett, Wilder Dorset Community Ranger at Dorset Wildlife Trust
Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. As our use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and other synthetics have increased, so has the sterility of the land.
We are seeing a huge decrease in biodiversity, the mass extinction of species and the collapse of whole ecosystems. Since the advent of these chemicals, we have taken two mutually beneficial things – grazing animals and fertilising fields – and separated them to make two massive, industrial-scale problems in separate places.
If we look back just a couple of generations, we can see how much things have changed. Gone are the times where we could have flocks of finches feeding on cover crops over winter, where Curlew could safely nest in the countryside and where there weren't 1,000,000’s of introduced game birds decimating the land. We now take multiple crops a year, churning up any nests and mammals along the way, and pump the land full of chemicals which then pollute our waterways and oceans.
So where did it all go wrong? Why are we treating nature as a collection of resources for short-term benefit? Is it solely the farmers fault? Not necessarily. It is a much more nuanced and ethically complicated problem. I believe that much of the world no longer considers our relationship with the environment a significant part of the larger biophysiological picture of human health. There has been so much constriction, numbing, and diversion in our capacity to feel love for the natural world that our emotional lives are being harmed. We need a much wider proportion of people to have a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of life on earth, and value biodiversity, in order to change societal systems on a fundamental level.
So, what can we do? We need to change the beliefs that have been built into us over the past 100 years and help others to do the same. I’ve recently started working at Wild Woodbury, a community rewilding site in Bere Regis, and can’t wait to see how it changes over the coming years. When I first walked around the 170ha of land, the main thing that struck me was the awful state of the soil. Some of the fields were very compacted from years of cattle grazing, some had suffered from severe topsoil runoff due to the planting of maize and many were devoid of any diversity whatsoever. However, even after a few weeks, changes started to happen. The fact that these fields hadn’t been ploughed for the first time in many years gave them an opportunity. An opportunity for ‘agricultural weeds’, or bare-ground specialists as they should be called, to sprout and start providing a seed source for birds, for mammals to start digging and begin the aeration of the soil, and for invertebrates to move back in.
For me, when thinking about the restoration of landscapes, you must begin with the health of the soil. Bare ground specialists e.g., Common Field Speedwell, Chickweed, Scarlett Pimpernel, can quickly establish when given the chance, and protect and restore soil that has been left exposed by human-caused disturbance. Of course, this will also happen where natural disturbance takes place too, but due to the lack of wild large herbivores and rootlers, it does not happen as much as it should. In addition to bare ground specialists, we can expect nitrogen and phosphorus-loving plants to quickly become widespread, feasting on the high levels of synthetically added chemicals in the ground. These plants, which include nettles, thistles, ragwort and docks, have wrongly got a terrible reputation for being a nuisance in the countryside and are often sprayed or chopped down at the first sight of them. Ironically, this is possibly the worst thing to do for the people who don’t want them seen, as the plants themselves will be fixing the nitrates and phosphates into their structure, therefore removing them from the soil and making the conditions less suitable for them to grow the following year.
These plants are also incredibly important for wildlife. Ragwort, for instance, has 168 insect species that either partially or fully depend on it (35 fully, 83 significantly, 50 parasitic on the insects that depend on it). At Wild Woodbury, we are seeing these first stages of succession across the site. Bare ground specialists are starting to establish themselves over several fields and nature is starting to return. Flocks of Skylark and Yellowhammer have been building in the fields where seed is available, Snipe and Woodcock (pictured above) are foraging at night, and Wood Mice have been excavating masses of holes. These mice in particular have been a surprise, due to both their number and the mass of material they have been extracting. Usually, these small rodents would be ploughed up, but we have seen them thrive on the bare ground in a few fields, and they are also spreading across the whole 170ha of Wild Woodbury.
So, what can we expect for the site? For me, in years to come, it will have evolved into a dynamic mosaic of bare ground, scrubland and mature woodland. Old breed cattle, horses and pigs would have been introduced, keeping it a forever changing landscape where a large diversity of species are thriving. It will provide a green space where people have the chance to get into nature, where they can learn, and where they can enjoy seeing the wildlife around them. Most of all, I see it providing enthusiasm and hope to others, so everyone can see a way to help reverse the ecological and environmental emergencies we are in and encourage more people to do the same for our nature and wildlife.
If you wish to know more about the Wild Woodbury site, or contact me for any other reason, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org