From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

Festive volunteering helps heathland wildlife

Popular volunteering event helps wildlife charity to clear pine trees from rare heathland.

Published: December 13, 2016 at 6:00 am
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Although pine trees are very popular at this time of year for use as festive decorations, they are not welcome on heathlands in Dorset and Surrey.


Due to pines having been planted on the heathlands previously, there are thousands of self-seeded pine saplings.

These saplings would turn into dense pine woodland without management and the rare heathland habitat, and its wildlife, would disappear.

“Pines on lowland heath are weeds,” says Dante Munns, Dorset Area Reserves Manager for the RSPB. “For 1 day a year, we ask the public to come along and help us out.”

Grayling butterfly. © Getty/js1300

Lowland heathland is very bio-diverse and is relied upon by a range of wildlife species such as grayling butterfly, sand lizard, woodlark and Dartford warbler.

These species require open heathland with gorse, heather and bare open patches of sand or grass.

A Pull a Pine event has been running at RSPB Arne in Dorset for over a decade, and is in its second year at RSPB Farnham Heath in Surrey, and is part of the overall aim to restore the rare habitat.

A couple of attendees at the Pull a Pine event at RSPB Arne. © Terry Bagley

Over 1500 people attended the RSPB Arne event, and 246 at the RSPB Farnham Heath event to help the reserves staff and volunteers restore the heathlands.


“[It] also provides opportunities for people to get involved in protecting our wildlife, while getting some exercise in the fresh air,” added Tim Webb, also from the RSPB.


Megan ShersbyEditorial and digital co-ordinator at BBC Wildlife Magazine, and

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