Students at Bournemouth University are working on a project to understand Purbeck heathland to support ongoing conservation and management efforts.
The project, in collaboration with the National Trust, RSPB and Back from the Brink, will capture data about the heathland and its vegetation to help make management decisions for the heathland's ongoing conservation.
Students from BU’s BSc (Hons) Ecology and Wildlife Conservation course are surveying the land, capturing data about the height, width and depth of the vegetation in the heathland, as well as capturing data about other species who call the heathland home, such as the Purbeck mason wasp.
Marco Parasiliti, an Ecology and Wildlife Conservation student, said, “The habitat we are surveying is quite rare across the UK, so it is really important to know how it is being managed, and how the management is affecting the species of the heathland.”
David Brown, an Ecologist at National Trust Purbeck, said, “The work that the students are doing is part of the long-term monitoring work we are carrying out for the heath. There are several thousand hectares in the Purbeck that are constantly changing, because of the way we manage them, because of the way that animals graze on them, and because of natural change, and to make the right decisions about management we want to keep track of how vegetation is changing over time.”
Dr Anita Diaz, an Associate Professor at Bournemouth University, led the student team in their work. She said, “The information gathering feeds back into the management of the heath. It means that, over time, working together, we can get the heathland working well for nature, and for people so that it is an enjoyable place for people too.”
The work will contribute to a wider project, which will look to join up different parts of the heathland to form a national nature reserve, with many organisations and charities working together to see the heathland thrive through proper management.
The students are conducting the field work as a part of their course, with their work having impact as it is used to make decisions about the future of the heath.