Dog mess increase affecting reserves and visitors, says wildlife trust

May 24, 2022

Walking a dog on one of Dorset’s nature reserves is one of life’s pleasures that hundreds of people across the county enjoy on a regular basis. Visitors, however, might not be aware of the effect that dog mess left behind on the heathland has on plants and animal species. Bournemouth-based national wildlife trust, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) is appealing to dog walkers across the county to clean up.

Did you know?

The heathland flora we have in Dorset is rare due to the naturally low nutrient levels of the soil. This has enabled plants that can tolerate these conditions to flourish, such as our four types of heather and numerous rare flower species. By introducing dog faeces, much as in the same way that chemical fertilizers are put on farmland, it increases the nutrient level, meaning that our vital heathland plant species become dominated by common grasses and escaped garden plants. This is extremely evident when looking along access tracks to urban heathland sites, but the encroachment into more sensitive areas is continuing to increase as well.

As the makeup of the soil changes, the plant species that have thrived for thousands of years are lost and in turn the wildlife species that rely on these heathland plants in order to survive are lost forever too.

ARC has been running regular education events on Parley Common for school age children and have noticed that the amount of dog mess has noticeably increased.

ARC education officer, Owain Masters said ‘Quite regularly now I have to spend most of my events saying watch out for the poo! …Not ideal when you are on site to teach children about the importance of looking after nature! So I decided to do a litter pick as one of the Sunday Fundays and the feedback makes for sad reading, high levels of plastic and dog waste have even been found at the waterfall gate entrance which isn’t even in an urban area. ARC reserves are free to visit although don’t let your dog make children animals and plants suffer the consequences of what you leave behind.’

Latest News