Protected Dorset heathland damaged by cyclists

Protected Dorset heathland damaged by cyclists

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:46am 10th June 2020.

A protected heathland area in Dorset has been damaged by trails and jumps created for cyclists.

Bike riders are only allowed to use the bridleways at Blackhill near Bere Regis.

But parts of the Site of Special Scientific interest have been dug up to create jumps.

Dorset Council say the damage has increased during the Covid-19 lockdown and The Urban Heaths Partnership along with Dorset Police and Natural England are reaching out to the public for their help in tackling this problem.

Amy, the local Urban Heaths Partnership Warden is passionate about the unique character of these spaces.

She said:

"Often, the people who are using or creating these trails and jumps do not realise the catastrophic impact it has on the wildlife.

"For instance, sandy areas are used to incubate the eggs of one of our rarest reptiles, the sand lizard. Something as simple as riding across it could destroy a whole clutch of eggs hidden beneath the surface.

"It is brilliant that so many people are out being active but please help us to protect Blackhill Heath, by keeping to bridleways."
 

Black Heath Woodland Comparison ©Amy Gallagher
Left: the impact of unauthorised bike ramp construction on vegetation. Right: an area of undamaged woodland showing a healthy forest floor. ©Amy Gallagher

The public are also being urged to report any damage or inappropriate use of the site, both to the Police and to Natural England.

Claire Dinsdale, Rural Crime Officer at Dorset Police said:

"We would ask the public to report to police if any persons are seen damaging the SSSI by digging or riding motorbikes or cycling off the permitted bridleway routes.

"Anyone found causing such damage will be dealt with and any motorbikes used off road in this way will be seized. Officers will be patrolling in this area." 

'How to report damage to Blackhill' 

If you witness damage to the plants or animals of Black Hill Heath, please contact Dorset Police.

For crimes in progress use 999, for urgent reports use 101, for all other reports email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk  

Please also inform Natural England by email ProtectedSites@naturalengland.org.uk or telephone 0300 060 3900 to help us keep this place special.