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we can all do something to address the declines in wildlife diversity and populations…

We are fortunate to live in a UK biodiversity hotspot in this area, with a large variety of habitats including heathland, limestone grassland, acid grassland, wet grassland and heath, woodlands streams, sand dunes, cliffs and marine habitats all within a few miles of Swanage.

This variety is attributable to the area’s varied and stunning geology, geography and its interesting history. Recognising this, the area is protected under a myriad of environmental designations including: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Site of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserve, World Heritage Site and most recently a Marine Conservation Zone. Specific areas are managed with nature in mind by conservation organisations, see links below. The area is historically a quarrying, fishing and farming area with the latter being generally livestock farming due to its suitability.

There is still much that can be done to support these sites and improve the areas in-between them to reduce the isolation of species and give a much-needed boost to their populations. We have formed a subgroup called ‘Greening Swanage’ which aims to work with and support the community in achieving this. We refer to a detailed plan that has been published for Swanage called the Green Infrastructure Strategy and are working with local authorities and the organisations at the bottom of the page.

How can you help:

  • Support local organisations in their efforts to protect nature in heavily visited areas by keeping dogs under control in nesting season (March-July) and clearing up after them, taking rubbish home with you, sticking to the paths and taking only photos of flowers rather than picking them.
  • Learn the local wildlife. If you know and appreciate it more not only will you get more out of your time outdoors, you can help protect and record the wildlife found here.
  • Volunteer with us or any other of the organisations working locally listed below.
  • If you own or manage an area of land such as a church, school, or a garden, find out how you can manage it more effectively for wildlife, balancing your needs for the site with positive benefits for local populations. If your organisation would like to make positive changes to your space, we would be very happy to offer help and advice.

Ideas to improve biodiversity in your garden.

  • Say ‘no’ to mow. Try leaving an area of your lawn long for nature to thrive, letting the flowers flower; the longer grass provides a home for many more insects than short turf.
  • Plant flowers for pollinating insects and try to ensure you have something in flower for as much of the year as you can.
  • If you can, install a pond even a small one will help.
  • Don’t be too tidy! Leave some areas with piles of logs, branches or cuttings to encourage more insects, other animals and fungi.
  • Have a compost heap.

There is much more information on how to garden with wildlife in mind from RSPB and the Wildlife trust websites, plus there are many good books available.

conservation organisations in this area

Dorset Wildlife Trust

This local branch of the national network is active in Swanage and manages the Townsend Nature Reserve.

Durlston Country Park

Expansive, clifftop nature reserve with a visitor centre/gallery in a renovated Victorian castle.


Arne remains one of the few places in the UK where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can be found. The reserve is a haven for wildlife.

National Trust – Studland Bay

The National Trust’s Studland Beach, is a vast area of sandy beaches and heathland with views of Old Harry Rocks.

Purbeck Marine Conservation Zone

For more information on this new designation from 2019 for the this area, visit the DWT pages