Making Purbeck wilder – opinion of local people wanted

Community group Planet Purbeck will be getting out and about this summer in an effort to find out what everyone thinks – not just the green enthusiasts – about nature recovery projects going on in our area of Dorset.

It’s been commissioned to carry out a major survey into public attitudes by the Wild Purbeck Partnership, a group of 30-plus landowners, farmers and environmental organisations who are working together to deliver significant changes to the countryside and coastline.

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Doug Skinner, Emma Withers and Like M Luke from Planet Purbeck at Swanage Rotary Fete

Planet Purbeck team will be out and about again this summer

Benefiting both nature and local people

Post-Brexit, landowners and farmers in England will no longer receive EU money for traditional farming.

Instead, the UK government will be providing funding when the land also provides ‘public goods’ by protecting the environment. Across the country, actions range from maintaining peatland to conserving hedgerows and assessing soils.

These changes, which include rewilding and allowing landscapes to take their own course, are aimed at benefiting both nature and local people.

Sudland cow

Introducing grazing cattle in Studland is part of a project to increase the biodiversity of the land

Popular grassroots organisation

But the Wild Purbeck Partnership (WPP) has historically found it challenging to engage a wider audience than those already involved in projects and find out more about what others think.

Planet Purbeck says it was chosen to conduct the survey as it’s seen as a neutral, popular grassroots organisation more in tune with mainstream residents who may or may not be in favour of WPP’s activities.

The hope for WPP is that it will gain a community mandate to go ahead with nature restoration on a large scale and at speed. Thousands of Purbeck residents will be quizzed in the survey, dubbed Change Is Coming.

Rob Waitt

Co-founder of Planet Purbeck Rob Waitt

“Discover what people really think”

Planet Purbeck’s co-founder Rob Waitt said he was “incredibly proud” to be trusted with the survey, adding:

“We are going to be everywhere – on the sidelines of sports events and at fetes, fairs and carnivals. We will be chatting to people sunbathing, eating ice creams or just walking in the street.

“There will also be opportunities to respond on social media and other online outlets. We want to make sure everyone in Purbeck gets a chance to influence and shape how these projects will develop and work out.

“Are they in favour of, for example, the reintroduction of wild beavers? What do they make of bodies such as the National Trust and the RSPB, and Purbeck’s national nature reserve? What do they feel are the benefits and drawbacks of living in Purbeck?

“It will be both exciting and fascinating to discover what people really think about these important matters.”

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