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Rewilding success in Dorset

Skylarks are one of the seven red-list bird species that have been identified at Wild Woodbury in Dorset

A rewilding project has led to the return of bird species that are in critical decline. Seven birds on the conservation concern red list have been identified at Wild Woodbury in Dorset.

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has been transforming the 170-hectare former agricultural site, near Bere Regis, since acquiring it in 2021. The charity has logged 1,600 species on the nature reserve, 300 more than last year, and among those recorded are the nightingale, greenfinch, grey partridge, marsh tit, skylark, nightjar and tree pipit – all red list species.

Last year, DWT received almost £900,000 in grants to put towards Wild Woodbury. The River Sherford, which runs through the reserve, now hosts lapwing, golden plover and common snipe.

GWCT senior adviser and ST contributor Mike Swan said: “Wild Woodbury is a fascinating project, and it will be great to see how it develops over time, but we should not go away thinking that rewilding is the only route to nature recovery.

“For example, by introducing habitat improvements, and a keeper carrying out predation control, GWCT were able to double the numbers of farmland birds at the Allerton Project, while still maintaining a productive and commercially viable farm.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.