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A series of unimproved wet meadows lying within the River Avon floodplain.
Part SSSI, this 14 hectare site is divided into two distinct areas, forming
both an important public green space for local residents and a more secluded
area rich in wildlife.
Purewell Meadows is a 14 hectare nature reserve, made up of four hectares public open space, and ten hectares (recently purchased or leased) designated as a SSSI. The complex system of fields and ditches presents a range of plant habitats including wet acidic grassland over peat and more neutral damp grassland which are an integral component of the meadows of the Avon Valley. Part of the site was declared as a Local Nature Reserve on 24 July 2005.
Wet meadows such as the meadows found at Purewell are a fast disappearing habitat type in lowland Britain. The meadows are dominated by grasses and sedges but also contain a large number of flowering plants. These include Ragged Robin and Devils Bit Scabious. It is hoped that the introduction of grazing in Spring 2005 will help to increase wildflower diversity on the site. Several other Dorset Notable species are present within this area of the site and in the past there has been a population of the nationally rare marsh fritillary butterfly present.
Following 15 years without grazing, the condition of the SSSI meadows was such that the longer, coarse grasses have begun to threaten the diversity of wildflowers and sedges on the site. In order to raise the overall quality and species diversity of the meadow, cattle were introduced to part of the site during 2002/03. Unfortunately, several difficulties were encountered trying to graze the site and this vital management was postponed, until Spring 2005, when 6 galloway x aberdeen angus cattle were reintroduced. This followed works to remove much of the scrub that has encroached onto the site in the last 20 years which helped get the majority of the site into a condition suitable for grazing.