July 2022 News
Date publishedThursday, 28 July 2022
"Don't tell me that's not a platypus"
In the last few weeks, many of you will have heard on the grapevine that we have received news of a new visitor to the Stour catchment. Local residents took a video of what looks like a large, furry mammal with a wide, flat tail swimming along the river and we have good reason to believe it is probably not a platypus as confidently identified by those taking the video...
We're trying to piece together any other details about this newcomer, so if any of our partners have heard any more information or sightings of wild beavers in Dorset, please get in touch. With wild populations of beavers in the Somerset Frome, it was expected that wild beavers would make their way to Dorset eventually so in our Catchment Strategy (pg 33) we identified the need for the Catchment Partnership to begin preparing for beavers’ arrival.
This is why we have a Dorset Beaver Working Group - a cross-discipline group of academics, regulators, projects and stakeholders that can share evidence and exchange views on beavers in a local context. In light of this sighting and the Government's recent announcement that beavers will become a protected species from October, we'll be calling a meeting with our Beaver Working Group soon to discuss the risks and the next steps.
News from the catchment
Not the only new beaver on the block
The Stour beaver is not the only new arrival announced this week in Dorset, the pair in the enclosed Dorset Wildlife Trust trial have had two kits - the first to be born in Dorset for over 400 years! This is an exciting development in the trial which is gathering evidence of beavers' activity and wellbeing, as well as physical and ecological changes at the site. The trail cameras have caught great footage of the kits on Youtube and Twitter, which look to be healthy and at home in the wetland engineered by its parents.
Restoring Dorset's Peat Factsheet
Dorset Peat Partnership has produced a FAQ sheet to help raise awareness of peat in Dorset and its benefits. It explains what peat is, where it can be found in Dorset and why it needs restoration. Please share the factsheet with your contacts, especially those whose teams are out on the ground on heath and mire sites in Dorset, physical copies are also available for distribution if you get in touch.
Dorset Wild Rivers 2021 - 2022
The Dorset Wild Rivers partnership programme was busy last year as usual, delivering enhancements to freshwater environments across Dorset. Dorset Wildlife Trust, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West and Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) lead the programme across the many sites listed in the infographic below.
Farming in Protected Landscapes
Dorset AONB has supported over 60 projects through the first year of the Farming in Protected Landscapes funding programme, including a farm orchard restoration in West Dorset that has been included as a case study in the national programme leaflet.
Dorset Council Local Plan pushed back
Dorset Council will be pushing back its implementation of their Local Plan for two years until 2026 and will be working with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to pilot a new approach to local plans. The 2021 consultation on the draft Local Plan received over 9000 responses, including from the Catchment Partnership and many of our partner's organisations. The respondents asked for stronger protection for Dorset’s unique natural environment and to tackle climate change as the leading priority has been recognised and hopefully, the next iteration will better reflect this.