DORSET conservationists are celebrating a half century of volunteering by beginning to restore Kingcombe Meadow's lost hedges.

Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve in West Dorset has been an area the Dorset Countryside Volunteers has protected for years and organisers believe the work it is a fitting way to mark 50 years of work. 

Group member Doug Kite said: "To mark these 50 years we thought it would be good to do something that left a legacy for DCV members into the future and also enhanced people’s enjoyment on a countryside visit.

"From much thinking we homed in on planting 50 trees in a particular place or perhaps along hedgerows. Finding a suitable place proved difficult, but the idea of something to do with hedgerows stuck given DCV's long history of hedge laying and, on a few occasions, hedge planting."

Referred to as 'the farm time forgot', Kingcombe Meadows has been untouched by artificial fertilisers and pesticides. 

Protected by the group and Dorset Wildlife Trust, the area is known for its historic hedges and it has been discovered that the coverage used to be much more extensive.

Doug said: "One of the most striking features of Kingcombe Meadows is its network of tall, thick hedges. There are nearly 200 in total, measuring about 11 miles in length.

"Despite the dominance of hedgerows in the Kingcombe landscape today, even more field boundaries were shown on the 19th century map and, at that time, these were almost certainly hedges.

"Presumably over subsequent years they had been grubbed out to give a few bigger fields.

"There were 6 lost hedges. Could DCV put back one of these lost hedges?"

The team will plant a hedge on February 24 and 25 and it is hoped it can act as a lasting legacy of the group. 

They have invited anyone interested to join to come to any of their events with several east Dorset schemes.

For more information visit the group's website.