Standing in a ploughed field, rock star and environmentalist Brian May revealed that his passion to transform Dorset farmland into a woodland wildlife haven could have subtle roots – he is from Dorset farming stock.
The former Queen guitarist was in the county yesterday to share with the community his vision for 155 acres between Bere Regis and Shitterton. The land at Kytes Hill was up for sale and locals feared it could be developed. The arrival of Dr May, PhD in astrophysics and a famously committed environmentalist, has delighted many in the two communities. He already owns a similar amount of land in the area, much of it already woodland. The new holding will help “increase the wildlife corridor” which he is committed to creating.
The land would be planted with native hard woods, beech, cherry, walnut, and hazel, which will be coppiced, providing perfect habitat for dormice. The badgers that he champions in the face of the planned targeted cull to fight bovine TB will find a welcome home on the land but he was quick to dismiss any suggestion that badgers unwanted in other areas will be brought in.
“We are certainly not going to be bringing in badgers. I wouldn’t be so irresponsible,” he said. “When this piece of land came up for sale we heard that they were thinking of putting up houses on it. We looked at the map and it was the perfect way of extending the woodland and those were the driving forces. I wanted to own land to learn the truth about woodland management. I spend a lot of my time now trying to protect animals and I wanted some land where I could try to return England to its natural state in a small way. Once I became involved I realised it was about people too.
“This land is right next to Shitterton and I am hoping it will be a model for the way the countryside could be managed, a way for us all to live in harmony with what we have been blessed with. I am reassuring people that they will still be able to walk there. We will keep bridleways for riders, although we will try to encourage them to stay on the bridleways, and we want people to still use the paths.
“Some will be meadow so that people will still have their view of the hills. I won’t live to see the wood mature but hopefully it will be there for my grandchildren (he has three).
“My ancestors were dairy farmers in Dorset strangely enough so maybe there is some extra force at work.”
Villager Sybil Frampton said: “I love trees and I didn’t want houses. This is really encouraging.” Fellow villager Susan Stone, added: “People are already calling it May’s Wood, perhaps that will be its official name.”