Help Wareham Forest

Wareham charred trees amongst heathland

Restoring Wareham Forest

In May 2020 large areas of Wareham Forest were destroyed by a ferocious forest fire. This land was home to important wildlife, including rare birds, plants, reptiles and insects.

Believed to have been started by disposable BBQs, the blaze scorched heathland, destroyed woodlands and wiped out critical habitats for wildlife across an area equivalent to the size of 350 football pitches.

Thanks to the generous support of hundreds of people, our fundraising appeal raised over £5,000.

Forestry England staff planting trees

How we’re helping to restore the forest and plan for the future

  • We’ve replanted thousands of trees to replace some of those destroyed by the blaze, and we’ve left large areas unplanted, to expand existing areas of heathland and connect them through unplanted corridors.
  • We will start to restore wildlife and habitats destroyed by the blaze by creating new breeding sites for rare reptiles, and placing new bat boxes in the affected areas.
  • We will make changes to protect the area from fire in the future by creating new fire breaks and buying more fire-fighting equipment and animal rescue kits.

Wareham Forest is a stronghold for wildlife and much of it is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is one of the few places where it is still possible to find all six of the UK’s native reptiles, including the endangered smooth snake and sand lizard, and it is home to many rare species of birds and insects. As a result of the public fundraising, restoring Wareham Forest to its former glory is now underway, ensuring it can continue to be a special place for all who spend time in it for many years to come.

Some words from our donors

“I live in Wareham and walk my dog and cycle regularly in Wareham Forest. The fire devastated a place in which I regularly find solace and I want to help restore what was lost.”

“I've been going to Wareham Forest for the last 25 years, and my family for generations. It means so much to me. My parents were in tears when they read the news.”

“I was walking in Wareham Forest the day the fire started and was horrified by how quickly it spread and the resulting devastation. There is a real feeling of helplessness when you see fire engulf a place you love. I hope that this donation, along with others, will help the speed the forest's recovery with new tree planting and other conservation projects.”

Generic woodland

Wareham Forest is a great place to explore and discover the famous heaths and woods of the Dorset countryside.

Many miles of tracks take you through beautiful and ancient landscapes, where if you are lucky, you’ll see some of its special wildlife. The cycle trail takes its names from the famous Sika deer and the walking trail is named after the rare ground-nesting birds, Woodlarks, who's lovely song you may hear on your walk.

A heathland strip at Ostler's Plantation
26 October 2020
While some of us have continued to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many of our staff have continued to work on the forestry frontline. Our dedicated teams were challenged when, in May 2020, large areas of Wareham Forest were destroyed by a ferocious forest fire. This land was home to important wildlife, including rare birds, plants, reptiles and insects.  For two long weeks, fire tore through Wareham Forest. Tackled by over 150 fire fighters, supported by our local team, by the time it was under control it had destroyed over 220 hectares, totalling 15% of this special landscape. We hear from Graham Nottage, Beat Manager in the Dorset Forests team.
Conifer seedlings growing in trays
21 November 2021
Every tree starts life as a tiny seedling. Discover how we grow the nation's forests.
Ground preparation for Rushy Knowe tree planting in Kielder Forest
26 June 2020
Rushy Knowe is a 145-hectare site in Northumberland where we are planting a new woodland.