We are currently undertaking a visitor survey in an area of forest and heathland in Dorset to collect information on visitor usage that will help to inform an Environmental Impact Assessment for a major cable route development project. The survey has been requested by Natural England as development at the site could result in increased visitor pressure at other designated sites and nature reserves in the area, the impacts of which require assessment.
Part of the site is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a popular place for local walkers and dog-walkers to visit. The area contains some rare reptiles including sand lizards, and heathland birds such as nightjars and Dartford warblers. The impact of the proposed development on these species is also being assessed and appropriate mitigation of any negative impacts will be put in place. Fortunately the impacts of the development, installation of a cable route, are temporary and remediation works will provide opportunities for habitat creation and management that will be a long term benefit to biodiversity in the area.
Two of our ecologists will be based in two car park entrances to the site, asking visitors a number of straightforward questions about how often they visit the area. The questions have been adapted from an existing published Natural England survey. Results of the survey will be written up and used in our completion of the Ecology Chapter of the Environmental Statement for the project.