LITTER louts who left rubbish and a set of garden furniture at a Dorset nature reserve have been criticised.

Dorset Wildlife Trust said the guilty party’s actions amounted to fly-tipping and it showed an “utter lack of respect” for the county’s wildlife and heathland.

Poole resident Martin Adams, who is a keen birder, came across the rubbish while visiting Upton Heath over the weekend.

He shared his disgust when he posted images of the scene, which was alongside the Castleman Trailway near the fishing lakes, on social media.

Mr Adams said unfortunately it was not a surprise to him anymore due to the way some people appear to treat nature.

He told the Daily Echo: “I patch watch Holes Bay as a birder and have seen shopping trollies, traffic cones and everything.

“It is frustrating, depressing and annoying but it isn’t a surprise anymore.

“This is the way some people treat this planet and these nature reserves.”

Alongside the furniture and the rubbish, Mr Adams discovered used disposable barbecues.

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Waste found left at Upton Heath. Picture: Martin AdamsWaste found left at Upton Heath. Picture: Martin Adams

“Last year we had the massive heath fire at Wareham Forest,” he said.

“With the weather at the moment, the heath is bone dry. Just one barbecue left there could set the heath on fire and do incredible damage to an important habitat used by nesting birds, like Dartford warbler, stonechat, linnet and nightjar.”

He added that lowland heaths, like Upton Heath, are also the one habitat where the six native species of British reptile can be found.

Upton Heath is managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, which said it was “extremely upset” to see the litter and furniture discarded.

“This nature reserve is a very important habitat for rare wildlife including sand lizards and nightjars and is a designated Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI),” a trust spokeswoman said.

“Leaving this extensive litter behind amounts to fly-tipping and shows an utter lack of respect for Dorset’s wildlife and heathland from the visitors responsible.

“Fly-tipping is also a serious criminal offence.”

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Rubbish left off the Castleman Trail at Upton Heath. Picture: Martin AdamsRubbish left off the Castleman Trail at Upton Heath. Picture: Martin Adams

The spokeswoman added: “Barbecues also pose a huge risk to heathland sites like this one and the damage done could easily have been much worse. We implore the public not to use barbecues on any nature reserve or wild space, including heathland sites.

"Fires can quickly get out of control with the surrounding dry vegetation, devastating the habitat and killing large numbers of wildlife. This has been seen many times in the county – in 2020 a fire started by a disposable barbecue caused 200 square metres of damage to Upton Heath.

“We are fortunate to be able to explore and enjoy these spaces, but this must be done responsibly. That means taking all litter home with you, not using disposable barbecues, keeping to paths and keeping dogs on leads unless in designated off-lead areas. It’s vital we all contribute to keeping this habitat and its wildlife safe for future generations.”