The Future of Purbeck's Countryside & Coast

Do you care about the future of our Countryside & Coast?

If YES!? 🙌

Join us this 🔊 Wed 27th Sept 7-8pm @The Mowlem (community room), where The Wild Purbeck Partnership will share details of their 20-year plan for the future of Purbeck’s Countryside & Coast!

Topics will include:
🧒Projects to encourage more young people into the great outdoors
🐃Species re-introductions: Beaver & Bison
🤿The tourism challenge
🍓Growing local food
🧑‍🤝‍🧑New nature-based jobs
🌳Greater land access for local people

Please RSVP to help us plan numbers via or just show up.

🍰They'll be tea & cake!

Rob & The Planet Purbeck Team

Purbeck's countryside as we know it is changing

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!

Or pick up a physical copy...

Find out more about Wild Purbeck Partnership >

Energy Saving Advice

Groups from Purbeck have put together energy saving tips, practical advice and information on financial support

Click here to view the page on our website or click here to download the PDF

We need your feedback!

Closes 31st October 2022

We're only 2 years old, have no cash reserves and need to ask our funders for £££ to deliver the festival each year.

Hearing all about your festival experience is the best way to show them the positive local impact the Festival has!

Thank you in advance for completing the survey.

We promise we'll work our socks off to deliver another fun & (mostly) free 10 day festival!

Complete the survey here 

Hedging our bets - investing in nature

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! 

View the full gallery of pictures from the hedge-laying training here >

"Come on in, the water is lovely (sometimes)"

Guest Post by Dave Pratten, who lives in Swanage, is a Swanage Beach Buddy and a key member of Sustainable Swanage and Planet Purbeck.

One of the few positive outcomes from the pandemic has been the significant increase in people using our local waters for recreational purposes. Whether, you are a wild swimmer, paddle boarder, kayaker, surfer or sailor, we all want to be able to play in clean rivers and seas.

Sewage and agricultural pollution still plague our rivers and ocean. In 2019 there were over 200,000 discharges of untreated sewage into UK rivers and almost 2,000 discharges into UK coastal bathing waters during the May-September bathing season alone.

The sheer volume of sewage and run-off entering the water means the UK is ranked just 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality and only 14% of rivers meet good ecological status.

Purbeck waters are not immune. The Surfers Against Sewage Safer Sea Service reported 21 pollution alerts in the last from the Ulwell Stream in Swanage, where the Combined Sewage Overspill discharges into the stream 340m from the beach and 31 incidents from the three overflows on the main beach.

Sewage in seawater poses a significant health risk. In November 2021, Dorset Oysters recalled its products due to concerns over norovirus. Pete Miles, the company director said it was "harder and harder" to run his Poole-based business because of sewage water in the sea. 

What can you do? 

1. Download the Safer Seas and Rivers App and inform our MP of each reported pollution incident 

2. Advise other local water users to do likewise. 

3. Consider joining Surfers Against Sewage and supporting the campaign!

Here's a recent, very topical article which may highlight the extent of pollution in our waters

1 Degree World Already Having a Big Impact

Guest Post by Harold Forbes, member of the Planet Purbeck Campaigns Team, Wareham area Men's shed and the author of "How to be a Humankind Superhero: A Manifesto for Individuals to Reclaim a Safe Climate"

As we ‘enjoyed’ our warmest ever New Year, many of us might have been looking forward with some trepidation as to what is going to happen to our climate.

Human action (mostly burning fossil fuels) has already caused an increase in global average temperatures of 10C over the pre-industrial level and we are noticing the effects of it more and more. The Australian wildfires at the start of 2021 were the most destructive ever: an area twice the size of Tasmania was affected, fully one-twelfth of the area of the continent that is not desert. The ‘heat dome’ that developed over north America during the summer brought unprecedented temperatures to northern latitudes and followed a similar heatwave over northern Europe that had seen Arctic Scandinavia experiencing periods as warm as southern Spain. Last year, Canadian fruit farmers saw their crops being ‘cooked’ on the branches and the wheat harvest is down by nearly half.  Land-based glaciers continued to melt, raising sea levels and bringing coastal erosion: already 200 million people are affected by higher coastal flood levels. Tree dieback, marine heatwaves killing fish and sea life, increasingly intense weather events like droughts and floods have all been mainstream news items over the past few years. It is increasingly obvious that something is seriously wrong with our climate.

Given the importance of our environment to supporting human (and all other) life, you might have thought that the intelligent life-form that humans claim to be might have done something about it. In fact, our reaction has been to burn as many fossil fuels in the past 30 years as we had from the start of the industrial revolution to the start of the 1990’s. This will continue to warm our climate. 

Every partial degree rise in the global average temperature has an increased impact on the damaging effects of climate change, increasing damage to human infrastructure and making food production more difficult. Once the increase reaches +1.5 0C, (which, on current trends could be by mid this century) the damage becomes very severe. Coral reefs, one of natures greatest beauties and nurseries to around a quarter of sea creatures, will essentially die out by this level; there are serious worries about the impact on krill, the main feedstuff for the Southern Ocean creatures and for mangrove swamps, the other main breeding ground. Effectively, the oceans face being emptied of wild fish. Limiting global temperature rises to 1.50C is currently the aspirational goal of global governments.

By +20C, the Arctic ice will melt completely in the summer months, something that has never happened in human history. The permafrost starts to irretrievably melt impacting the infrastructure of northern cities where 4m people live and releasing billions more tons CO2, making future heating quicker & inevitable. Antarctic & Greenland ice melts will raise seal level by 5m, impacting 1bn people and inundating major cities like Shanghai, Jakarta and Miami. Food production will become more difficult through major shifts in weather patterns. More species of wildlife will become extinct as shifting weather patterns deny them their food sources. Limiting global temperature increases to +20C over the course of this century remains the core of the Paris Agreement although the proposed cuts in emissions is not sufficient to achieve that and instead, we are presently heading for a plus 3 0C rise.

A rise of this magnitude would not necessarily be fatal for the survival of humanity but it would cause major disruptions to how it lives. Areas of the world would become uninhabitable due to heat stress and drought. The Amazon rainforest would likely fail and become a savannah, releasing yet more billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. It would almost certainly seem like the beginning of the apocalypse.

How do you think human societies will respond to these changes over the next couple of decades? Will we carry on pursuing economic growth at all costs because only by being ‘wealthy’ enough will we be able to but our way out of trouble? Or, will we realise that our economy as currently structured is rewarding a small proportion of people in order to destroy the future? There are alternative ways to organise our and power our activities. Will we find the political will to pursue them before it is too late?

Image of Harold's book, "How to be a Humankind Superhero: A Manifesto for Individuals to Reclaim a Safe Climate"

Tapping your spoke to turn the Purbeck wheel – and how Poole dolphins can help too

Guest Post by Ian Curtis, support staff at the Environmental Change Institute, at Oxford University

“I know” she said. “But I want to be able to say that I was here”. The village hall was full. The first time for decades. 

In fact, it was bursting at the seams. I had gone outside to let newcomers know they wouldn’t be able to get in. Down the side alley was the young mother. Gently rocking a pram she was looking in through the window. I went down to tell her too. I want to be able to say that I was here…. it was the inaugural village meeting on low carbon. Over 150 people had come to save the planet. 

That was fifteen years ago this spring. Since then the county where I live now has over 150 green community groups. A very substantial local green economy is growing every year, community-owned solar is everywhere, and there are plenty of events, reports, conversations and media coverage. I’ve been lucky enough to watch and/or be involved with some of these initiatives and this article tries to come up with a few insights which might be of help to the fantastic people growing Planet Purbeck. Including why the Poole dolphins might have something so special to offer! 

Here goes… 

1: Make a Map!

We, humans, love maps. They are incredibly eye-catching. And they are an extraordinary multi-purpose resource. They provide a huge amount of information visually and very quickly. They tell a story. They’re easy to update. You can experiment with new ideas: where could we plant thousands of trees, have new housing, green transport, flood risk, where are our community groups? And maps join dots.

But most importantly maps get everybody to look at where they live. Indeed, that is the first thing we all do (“where’s my home?”). Then we pull back and engage with our collective shared place (and space) that is Purbeck. And maps are interactive, everybody can touch them, add to the map, whether it’s physical stickers and pins or online clicks. I can be one of the dots.

We made a big map, six feet by four feet. But it was a roll up, light and portable. So we took it everywhere. We hung it on walls. We laid it on the floor. It had tramlines so you could play snakes and ladders. Or business suits could be on their knees moving lorries, trains, cars and bicycles around new transport ideas. Using a satellite-style image made it look very real. There is immense creative energy among a group of people standing together sharing “that’s what we look like from above”. 

What we really wanted also was a big 3-D one. Imagine a Purbeck model, with one of the world’s largest and most stunning natural harbours (perhaps you’ve got one?). A local company with us had a small town-based Lego one. They used it to show how water flows around us, including scary stuff like floods. 

Whatever you make, make them beautiful. By local artists, crafts people, technicians, computer whizzkids: “This is us and we’re proud of Purbeck!”

2.  Have a tool box

Touch, feel. Handle, pick up. Fiddle, move. Alongside our maps, one of our most successful resources was a box of things. These “things” are great ice breakers, especially for new groups and new audiences. 

Most of the time – especially at events - you end up listening to somebody. Which is fine and important. But a tool box helps with talking and conversation. It also provides practical memories. 

We were mostly low carbon so this defined most of our tools: low energy lightbulbs (quite revolutionary 15 years ago), bits of solar panels, smart meters, insulation, recycled products, thermal images. But we also had giant dice and a string of knickers.

Planet Purbeck is obviously much more than low carbon, so as well as above you can add a lot more variety. They can be simple too: seashells, leaves from local tree species, recipes, bug hotel, a list of local green suppliers, local books, mini-wormery, etc.  Three particular suggestions: 

  1. Press cuttings: a powerful commentary from the real world (local and more widely). They’re up-to-date, dynamic, authentic, flexible – and cheap. And the vast majority of people haven’t seen them. We almost gave up printing our “literature”, flyers, etc.  Not just to be green but because they just became out-of-date confetti. People engaged much more with press cuttings.
  2. Multi-coloured strip of LED lights: Planet Purbeck will be successful because of the individual and shared efforts of thousands of people. It will not be about silver bullets but about joining dots and providing the energy to connect these dots. The modern cleantech of a strip of LEDs is a neat analogy. 
  3. Model of a brain: if you do nothing else with my scribbles, please remember this. Label one half: “LEFT - logical, analytical, methodical” and the other half: “RIGHT – creative, emotional, intuitive”. And on the back of your hand write “Two half brains make the whole world better”.

3: Use a Wheel

Quiz master, vicar, scientist, beer brewer, artist. Something really important happened at that low carbon village launch event in 2007. Unique contributors made it a unique occasion. And soon after there were more. Our local freelance journalist had the lead article on page 2 of the Guardian. The carpenter carved giant sunflowers for publicity at Glastonbury. We had street champions, solar geeks and bike repairers.    

A lot of us joining green initiatives worry that we can’t make a difference, that we haven’t got much to offer. Our experience over the last 15 years has been exactly the opposite.  

Because you can turn a wheel two ways. The ‘powerful’ push big heavy pedals. But everyone can tap a spoke. Our green challenges need solutions right across society and the economy – everywhere. We need accountants, artists, builders, farmers, lawyers, mechanics, shopkeepers, storytellers, teachers - and tea&cakemakers! We need people doing low carbon housing, healthy food, rewilding gardens, recycling, reducing pollution, repairing clothes, pond creation, tree planting, transport design.  Planet Purbeck needs to keep inspiring people to find their special spoke – one or more - and join with willing others. 

But there’s a second way that the wheel can help – the front wheel, if you like. Steerage of the process. Planet Purbeck’s strategic success will be enhanced by actively engaging with a conscious and purposeful process, taking the local society, environment and economy from A to B.

One version of such a process can be shown by these four quarters in a wheel: build awareness; create change opportunities; create supportive cultures; deploy solutions. Each of these quarters has several spokes which tie in with the above idea of different roles, skillsets and interests. For example, for any specific topic large scale or small scale (and by no means covering all the bases): 

  1. build awareness: campaigns, research, education, media, social media, local knowledge
  2. create change opportunities: new ways of doing things, new techniques, new technologies, new markets and consumer choices, policies and regulations, 
  3. create supportive cultures: organisers, connectors, community groups, teams, art&creatives
  4. deploy solutions: investment, grants, crowdfunding, logistics, manufacturing skills, supply chains, replication, scaling up and down

The nature of a specific project will affect the prominence and importance of different spokes. But the point of the process is to help make plans, maintain momentum and keep the wheel moving, with many revolutions.   

4. Be honest about the Tough Mud

So, as I mentioned above, we’ve got 150-plus community groups on my patch. Probably nearly 5,000 events a year, 80,000 attendees – and more than 50,000 volunteer hours. A powerful green economy, brilliant scientists, greenish politicians. Not bad!  But we’re still losing – badly.

This decade will be a rollercoaster, exhilarating and scary. In 2009, Sir John Beddington, the then Chief Scientist to the UK Government, suggested that by 2030 the world will be facing a "perfect storm" of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources. This week’s Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum has – for the first time  - a top three of: climate action failure, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss. And locally, you will know about your own tough mud. 

The people of Purbeck – and everywhere else – are not going to wake up one morning soon to find we’ve cracked it.  Next year, in 2023, the world’s population will go past 8 billion. Nation states are stuck with today’s problems – even before Covid.    

So, take a deep breath and accept you’re playing at least for the rest of this decade. And that’s probably just to half-time.   

The exhilarating bit is “local” – like Purbeck - is powering along. Free from the shackles and inertia of nation states, communities across the UK and across the world are moving.  Re-creators are teaming up with re-organisers. And from my experiences, solutions are as likely to come from kitchen table chats as from science lab benches. 

5. Recruit the Poole Dolphins

An equally tough lesson from the tough mud is that while local might be a surging catalyst, “the few” are not going to cut it.  Playing with less than half a team doesn’t win.  

It is great to see that Planet Purbeck is buzzing with activity and supporters. But, with over 150 community groups on my patch, it still feels like we’re just scraping the surface. We need A LOT more people. Quickly. Secondly, think about the 4-quarters process on the wheel: you need as many as possible of these new recruits to be different from those who you already have. Extra skills, experiences, contacts, ideas. 

The best way to recruit is through partners. Planet Purbeck already has a great group of these. But now think SCALE and DIFFERENT. Looking for big fish as an outsider, I’ve spotted two: Poole Community Group (Facebook 18,500) and Poole Town FC, aka Poole Dolphins (Twitter 13,700). [For comparison, Planet Purbeck is fb: 1,360 and tw: 200]. 

Lets take a look at the football fans. Madness? But I’m writing this on the day that Sir Jonathan Van Tam - aka “JVT” – has just stepped down from his pioneering COVID public engagement, where he was renowned (indeed, THE champion) for engaging people through his football analogies. There is also a tweet today entitled “Could mobilising football fans be a key climate action”. At COP26, the biggest new participant to attend was global sport. In the UK look at things like Planet Super League and Pledgeball. 

What can football fans bring? Well, they live with some impressive insights on life: the unique role and opportunity of individuals within a team; performing at key moments, but also knowing when to pass the ball; coming back from losing; committed to crossing the white line again next week, regardless of what happened today; training, effort, injury, respect, anthems, cheering, pride, legacy, defeat, victory. The list goes on. 

Above all, football is about hearts and minds. Every player, every fan, every official wants to because they’ve bought in emotionally. Why does this matter for the environment? Because, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “Successful movements are built on passion, they aren’t built on guilt.”

And if Arnie doesn’t get you going, try this from the Queen: “It is as important as ever to build communities and create harmony, and one of the most powerful ways of doing this is through sport … I have seen for myself how important sport is in bringing people together from all backgrounds, from all walks of life and from all age-groups. …. This sort of positive team spirit can benefit communities, companies and enterprises of all kinds.”

On your doorstep, think about the creative opportunity between Poole Town’s two-legged Dolphins and the tail-bearing ones in Poole Harbour. (Sustainable Wareham and Swanage & Wareham Rugby Club have already blown their kick-off whistle, with a batch of tree-planting this month – Note: press cutting!)   

The real point for your recruitment champions is “go bold, go for big and different partners, go creatively”. You could get a surprise. 

So, that’s it. Maps, a tool box, a wheel or two and Poole’s dolphins – some ideas that might help. And one more, if I may. What Planet Purbeck has started is something about people re-imagining how they live with their surroundings.  It is about where you are now, where you have come from and where you are trying to get to. It’s a story and we need to tell more stories. About creativity, emotions and intuition as well as logic, analysis and method. And about a group of small green giants tapping their spokes to turn the wheel so that they can say “I was here”. 

"Let’s be realistic"

Guest Post by Rebecca Saville, who has a background in geography and town planning. She is currently reading for a PhD in Economics at SOAS, University of London and is also a member of the Planet Purbeck Campaigns Team.

Politicians and journalists habitually say, condescendingly, that environmental campaigners are unrealistic in our demands. The problem is not that we are unrealistic. The problem is that we have read the science and are operating with a different understanding of what is realistic.

The response to covid has demonstrated that what is politically and economically unrealistic can change in a few weeks.  Two years ago demand for everyone to stay in their own homes for 23 hours a day was politically unthinkable; 18 months ago nearly everyone complied.  In 2007 it was unthinkable that the government would give private banks support worth £1.162 trillion (£1,162,000,000,000, i.e. more than one million million); it was done by 2009.  During the second world war businesses were left in private hands but subject to a degree of state direction that would have been unthinkable in 1938.  

Scientific realism is not open to such adaptation.  Change is happening on a geological scale, a scale that is difficult for us to comprehend.  Geological speed is too slow for the human eye to detect the change so we look to the people with the tools to detect the change,  the scientists.  In geological time, the fifth major extinction was 66 million years ago when three quarters of plants and animals, including the dinosaurs, were driven to extinction by climate change.  Then climate change was caused by an asteroid.  Today we are living through the sixth major extinction, an outcome of climate change caused by us.  The faster the climate changes the more difficult it is for plants, animals and ourselves to adapt.  

If we want to limit and slow climate change we have to cut our greenhouse gas emissions fast.  Scientists inform us that carbon emissions need to be cut 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 to give us a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.  If all the pledges made at COP26 are met, global emissions in 2030 will be 14% higher than those in 2010.  Politicians and journalists tell us that, in terms of political realism, this was a success.  To be realistic in scientific terms, it was a failure. 

When political and economic realism collides with scientific realism there can be only one winner.  Slowly but inexorably scientific realism will grind political realism to dust.  Slowly but inexorably more species die.  Stewardship of the natural world is not only a moral responsibility, it is in the interest of the vast majority of people.  Responsible stewardship requires substantial and rapid action.  It is the only realistic response if we want to protect the beauty of Purbeck.



Nurse and Community Organiser

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!!

Interviewed by Sue Western - Jan 2022
Part of the Why we love Purbeck series, local Residents tell us what Purbeck means to them.