UNDETERRED by wind and rain a group of volunteers got stuck in to some practical nature conservation work on Upton Heath.

The Southern Co-operative is a corporate member of Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and staff have enjoyed getting their hands dirty.

They cut down pine and birch trees and helped dig trenches, to help protect the heathland which provides habitats for a large variety of wildlife. Nigel Brooks, Upton Heath warden, said: “We have a wide variety of volunteers who feel passionate about wildlife and the support of corporate volunteers is invaluable to us. They are the backbone of our winter work programme and we wouldn’t get even half of the work done without them.

“We want to keep the heathland open, so it is important to manage the number of pine trees and maintain selected wooded areas. It’s hard work, but we know that the volunteers get a lot out of it, and we do provide jacket potatoes to keep them going.”

All six native reptiles, including the smooth snake and sand lizard, and birds such as the nightjar and Dartford warbler live on heathland, so proper management of their habitats is essential for their survival.

“We love getting dirty and helping nature,” said David John Morgan, volunteer and Southern Co-operative store manager. “To put a cheque in a bank account is one thing but to actually come and help is another. It helps strengthen the morale of the team, promotes team-work and it’s nice to do something different.”

DWT membership manager James Haldane said: “The Southern Co-operative is one of our most valued corporate members and we are very grateful for the volunteer tasks they carry out with Dorset Wildlife Trust.”

For details about becoming a corporate member go to dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk or please call James Haldane on 01305 264620.