Shaftesbury’s Castle Hill is a special place containing a diverse range of habitats, from the steep slopes and deciduous woodlands to wetlands and grasslands.
The wildlife found across the five hectares includes invertebrates, 40 species of birds,130 types of plants, dragonflies, damselflies and lots of butterflies. The summit is described by Historic England as a ‘monument’ which includes a mediaeval fortified house. The lower slopes are considered the most important habitat – a site of nature conservation interest.
Grazing ended around 20 years ago. That means that scrub and mature trees, and invasive species like Himalayan balsam and bracken, have developed. One management method could be the reintroduction of goats or other grazing animals. Dorset Rangers, Dorset Council’s wildlife management team, has prepared a plan for maintaining Castle Hill. The Town Council appears to be happy with it.
Chairman of Shaftesbury Open Spaces group, John Parker, has asked for a group of like-minded locals and organisations to liaise with the Rangers to determine how the site is looked. John tells us what he liked about the land- management blueprint.