A survey to find out people’s views about Swanage Downs has now received around 170 responses but Swanage Town Council would like to hear from more residents and visitors.
There’s a proposal to designate the Downs as a local nature reserve and part of that process is to consult with local people and others who visit the area, to find out how they use the area and how it can be enhanced.
The predominantly grassed area stretches from Peveril Point up towards Durlston and is already an important open area for people and wildlife.
The map indicates the approximate area described as Swanage Downs. It does not include Prince Albert Gardens
Commitment to nature conservation
Formally designating the area as a local nature reserve is a way that Swanage Town Council can demonstrate its commitment to nature conservation and add a layer of protection to preserve the natural environment.
The project is being undertaken by Swanage Town Council in partnership with Sustainable Swanage and a growing number of local volunteers.
“I’d like to urge everyone to complete the survey”
Sarah Spurling from Sustainable Swanage said:
“It’s all about connecting people with nature and providing the right environment for biodiversity. The Downs is a really important site for insects and a good place for bees. We really need to have wildlife spaces – not just in the countryside but within our towns.
“I’d like to urge everyone to complete the survey, so we can get everyone’s views and if you have any comments, then please put them in the survey, so we can include them in the results of the survey.”
The survey asks questions about how often people visit the area and for what purpose, as well as questions about how to make the area more accessible and what events or activities people would be interested in.
The questionnaire closes at midnight on Sunday 14th February 2021. The results will then be collated and the findings will be discussed at an open meeting on Wednesday 24th February 2021. From this, the intention is to produce a comprehensive management policy to maximise the area’s future biodiversity potential.
Swanage Downs questions and answers by Sustainable Swanage
What is a local nature reserve?
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are for both people and wildlife. They are places with wildlife or geological features that are of interest locally, which give people special opportunities to study and learn about them or simply enjoy and have contact with nature.
They are an impressive natural resource which makes an important contribution to England’s biodiversity. Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are a statutory designation made by principal local authorities.
The status celebrates the worth and value of the site and maximises its potential. The designation as an LNR would also be included in the Local Plan and adds another layer of protection from development and potentially damaging activities. The designation is about recreation/access as much as biodiversity.
Why is it being considered for Swanage Downs?
To ensure that the site is protected for the benefit of local people for the future and that the natural value of the site is identified, understood and enhanced.
The site currently has a high level of biodiversity and the establishment of a nature reserve will increase its value amongst residents and visitors and encourage children, schools and other groups to learn and enjoy this space in a balanced manner.
The original proposal for a nature reserve at this location was identified in the Green Infrastructure Strategy in June 2018. In December 2020, it was incorporated within Swanage Town Council’s Environment Action Plan which was a result of the Climate Crisis Declaration of September 2019.
What does this mean for Swanage Downs?
At this stage we are seeking your views as to the value of the site and what ideas and suggestions might be incorporated into the proposed management plan for the future This will help ensure that the site can continue to be enjoyed by a wide range of people.
How can you be involved and have your say?
Please complete the Swanage Downs survey to let us know how you use and value the site. We will be holding an open meeting to discuss the findings of the survey on the 24th February 2021 and will publish details of this on our website and social media pages.
If you would like to be involved in the Friends group, please let us know in the survey and leave your details to be added to the group mailing list.
Fill out the survey
More information and the questionnaire can be found on the Sustainable Swanage website