The Erica Trust

Lesley Haskins , Founder and one of the Trustees, writes:

The Erica Trust is a small charity started in 2010 to complement work done by the other voluntary wildlife groups in south-east Dorset. The Trust already owns 400 acres, mostly heathland and grassland, around Verwood, Ferndown, and Merley, and it was thrilled to be able to secure the 100 or so acres which formed Lot 3 in the sale of the Neill’s estate coloured in on the map below.

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As its founder and one of three trustees, I can be found most weekends at Little Thatch on the Briantspuddle cross-roads. The charity’s plan is to restore and enhance the amenity and wildlife interest of the land, putting it back to the form in which some of our long standing residents can still remember it – a combination of old broad leaved woodland along the lower ground leading up to sunny heathland above.

To achieve this the northern third of the site will have the majority of the tall ‘alien’ conifers taken out, so the old oak and the beech woodland through which the public footpath runs, can be seen again in its full glory. The hazel understorey will be encouraged by coppicing, and holly controlled. With the shading conifers reduced and light getting through, the broadleaves should start to regenerate themselves again and the bluebells, primroses, wood anemomes and wood sorrel that we all enjoy so much will thrive.

The southern two thirds of the site will have the majority of the Scots pines taken off, so that the former heathland will come again into its own. Any characterful pines, birches and hollies will be left to break up the landscape. Culpeppers Dish will be come obvious again. Work will not start until 2019, and trees will be mostly, if not entirely, taken out southwards over temporary brash based tracks. The plan is also to provide better access by permissive paths linking the existing footpaths and bridleways so we can properly enjoy seeing our local and heathland wildlife flourish.

The ‘allotments plantation’ and surrounds remain in private ownership, however our different but complementary management programmes will ensure maximum variety of habitats and landscape types. If you have any information to pass on or comments you would like to make do please contact Lesley on lesleyhaskins@hotmail.co.uk or call in at Little Thatch at Briantspuddle Crossroads at weekends.