Environment, Latest News, Wildlife | Posted: Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 at 11:18 am | return to news

Cyclists damaging wildlife site at Bere Regis

During lockdown, more people have been using their bikes for exercise, but sadly this has had an impact on an important wildlife site near Bere Regis.

Left, the impact of unauthorised bike ramp construction on vegetation. Right, an area of undamaged woodland showing a healthy forest floor. Photo by Amy Gallagher
Left, the impact of unauthorised bike ramp construction on vegetation. Right, an area of undamaged woodland showing a healthy forest floor. Photo by Amy Gallagher

The picturesque Blackhill has once again been damaged by the creation of trails and jumps for cyclists. The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), part of the Dorset Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) and the Dorset Heaths Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is protected by UK and European law because of its fantastic value for wildlife. Cyclists are only permitted to use the bridleways across the site and are not allowed to ride over other areas of the hill including the areas that have been dug up to build jumps. This damage has increased during the Covid-19 lockdown and The Urban Heaths Partnership along with Dorset Police and Natural England are asking the public for their help in tackling this problem.

Amy, the local Urban Heaths Partnership warden said, “We are so lucky to have heathland right on our doorstep in Dorset, but many people don’t realise how special these areas are. Often, the people who are using or creating these trails and jumps do not realise the catastrophic impact it has on the wildlife. For instance, sandy areas are used to incubate the eggs of one of our rarest reptiles, the sand lizard. Something as simple as riding across it could destroy a whole clutch of eggs hidden beneath the surface. It is brilliant that so many people are out being active but please help us to protect Blackhill Heath, by keeping to bridleways. They are marked by signposts on site and are shown on Ordnance Survey maps as well as on Dorset Explorer at http://explorer.geowessex.com.”

The public are also being urged to report any damage or inappropriate use of the site, both to the Police and to Natural England.

Claire Dinsdale, rural crime officer at Dorset Police said, “We would ask the public to report to police if any persons are seen damaging the SSSI by digging or riding motorbikes or cycling off the permitted bridleway routes. Anyone found causing such damage will be dealt with and any motorbikes used off road in this way will be seized. Officers will be patrolling in this area.”

If you witness damage to the plants or animals of Black Hill Heath, please contact Dorset Police. For crimes in progress use 999, for urgent reports use 101, for all other reports email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk

Please also inform Natural England by email: ProtectedSites@naturalengland.org.uk, or telephone 0300 060 3900.

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