Fundraisers have raised nearly £5,000 in an effort to help restore Wareham Forest after horrific fires tore through the woodland – and now the appeal has received support from local artists.
In May 2020, a devastating forest fire ripped through Wareham Forest, burning the area for more than two weeks. It was followed by a second blaze in June.
Dozens of firefighters from across Dorset including Swanage, bravely rushed to extinguish the fires.
Appeal to restore Wareham Forest
Forestry England, that manages the land, launched an appeal to help restore the forest and heathland over the coming years.
It’s looking to raise funds to help with various projects within the restoration effort.
These include planting fresh trees, recreating breeding sites for the area’s reptiles, installing bat boxes and investing in new machinery.
As of 6th October 2020, the fundraiser has brought in £4,882 towards the restoration project.
Aid from artists
One organisation boosting the restoration effort is the Broadstone Art Society.
It has launched an online exhibition showcasing depictions of the fire – some of which were produced with charcoal from the blaze itself.
The money made from the sale of the paintings will go towards the restoration appeal.
Simon Merry from the Broadstone Art Society said;
“Wareham Forest is a special place for local people and nature alike. Our group, like so many others in the local and wider community, were devastated to watch as fire destroyed so much of this landscape.
“We wanted to do something creatively in response and this has grown into an exhibition that might help raise awareness and support its restoration.
“We hope the images show the terrible force of the fire but also how nature has already started to return and reclaim its lost ground.
“We hope those viewing the works will find them engaging and be encouraged to support the Wareham Forest fundraising appeal.”
The restoration will take “several decades”
Forestry England said:
“The fire burnt for over two weeks destroying an area the size of 350 football pitches.
“This area will take several decades to fully recover from the damage and was home to rare bare-ground invertebrates as well as ground nesting birds such as the woodlark and native reptiles, in particular sand lizards and smooth snakes.
“Our task is to restore the lost habitats and protect the forest against future destructive fires. To do that, we need your support.”
The proceeds will go towards projects to help protect the area from fire in the future, including new firefighting equipment and animal rescue kits.
The area was devastated
By the time the fire was extinguished, huge swathes of heathland and forest had been scorched and natural habitats destroyed.
The area is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, singling it out for conservation.
Wareham Forest is home to many species of birds and insects and is also one of the few places left where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can still be found.