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Case Studies

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is a unique and special place, and one of the European sites local to our base in Wareham. We have a long history of work relating to the Harbour and it provides a good example of a single site where Footprint Ecology’s work has made a real difference. The harbour is designated as an SPA for its wintering, breeding and passage waterbird interest and different parts of the Harbour are managed by a range of bodies including the National Trust (Studland and Brownsea), RSPB (Arne), Dorset Wildlife Trust (Brownsea) and Poole Borough Council (parts of the northern foreshore). Issues relating to the site include water quality, recreational disturbance and impacts from bait collection and fishing activity.

Our personal enthusiasm and long-standing interest in the site’s conservation is reflected through several staff undertaking regular wetland bird counts (WeBS) as volunteers. Professional survey work has included work on Black-necked Grebes and other waterbirds in relation to disturbance (a project funded by Mark Constantine in 2006), night-time use by waders and wildfowl (in 2009, for Natural England) and work on disturbance, including more night-time fieldwork in 2012 (again for Natural England). These various studies and counts have informed management of access and the long-term protection of the Harbour.

Bait collection (both bait digging and bait dragging) in the Harbour and impacts from dredging for shellfish are activities of particular concern around the Harbour. Footprint Ecology’s work in mapping activity (through the use of drones, time-lapse cameras and direct observation) and experimentally testing for impacts on birds has directly informed how Natural England and other statutory bodies manage these activities.

In 2010 we produced a management plan for Brownsea Island for the National Trust and Dorset Wildife Trust, setting out the long-term management and vision for the island including the lagoon and heathland on the island. Other contributions to the management of the Harbour have included condition assessments for Natural England of Poole Harbour SSSI (2007) and Poole Harbour European Marine Site (2010).

The Harbour adjoins both Purbeck District and Poole Borough and with both local authorities we have worked on Habitat Regulations Assessments to ensure plan policy and individual developments are compliant with the regulations. In order to resolve likely significant effects and ensure no adverse effects on the integrity of the Harbour, we have worked with the authorities to ensure adequate protection from development and suitable mitigation measures are in place. Working with the Purbeck Nature Improvement Area (NIA) partnership we have undertaken visitor work and produced visitor management strategies for areas around the Harbour. We have also collected visitor data to highlight the economic value of certain activities, such as kite surfing to the local economy.

We intend to continue to work with local and national organisations to ensure the long-term conservation of this unique and special place.

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