More than 30 years after a national campaign to save ‘the farm that time forgot’, Kingcombe Meadows has been recognised as a gold-standard haven for wildlife, as it is declared England’s newest National Nature Reserve (NNR).
Dorset Wildlife Trust, in collaboration with Natural England, is pleased to announce the designation of the new Kingcombe NNR today (2 July) ahead of National Meadows Day on 3 July. Kingcombe Meadows and Powerstock Common, two of Dorset Wildlife Trust’s flagship West Dorset nature reserves, have been designated by Natural England as a combined NNR, encompassing 309 hectares of grassland, woodland and scrub habitat either side of the River Hooke. The designation, which includes two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, recognises these places as nationally and internationally important landscapes.
Kingcombe Farm, in the heart of the meadows’ unimproved grassland, was in disrepair when its owner died. It was broken up into lots sold at auction in 1987. Thanks to the attention brought about by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and The Telegraph, enough funds were raised by local campaigners and Dorset Wildlife Trust to buy several lots. Since then, more of the original land has been accrued and the farm still functions as an organic pesticide-free business.
This ‘unimproved’ landscape features marsh fritillary butterflies and wildflowers such as bee orchids, pepper saxifrage and devil's-bit scabious, which also grow at neighbouring Powerstock Common, and its patchwork of woodland edges, scrub and scattered trees provides perfect conditions for foraging bats. A network of ponds supports amphibians, with toads, frogs and all three species of native newt breeding on site. Dorset Wildlife Trust restored Powerstock Common by removing conifers, planting native trees and allowing a mosaic of rich wood-pasture habitat to regenerate with the help of the resident cattle and ponies.
Posted on: 02 July 2021