The Isle of Portland Limestone Grassland Restoration Project

19/01/2016 • News

Aims and Objectives of the Project 

The main aim of the project was to restore and secure 200 hectares of UK Biodiversity Action Plan limestone grassland and to safeguard hundreds of rare, threatened and declining species including ten UK BAP species on the Isle of Portland. In achieving this aim the project has established: a 10-year island-wide management plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of the island’s wildlife and habitats, a partnership of conservation organisations, volunteers and the local community to deliver the island management plan and the Portland Quarries Nature Park as a focus for local nature conservation. 


Growing success on Portland. 

The exposed limestone of 80 abandoned quarries on Portland forms part of a rich history of industrial quarrying heritage, but also creates a valuable network of habitats in which rare plants and wildlife thrive. To help ensure its survival, 2011 saw the launch of this project to combat the Cotoneaster (a waxy leafy bush) which was smothering and destroying the native limestone grassland and its associated communities of species. 

With grateful thanks, the project was supported by a number of funders and landowners including Albion Stone, Portland Stone, Natural England, the Court Leet of the Island and Royal Manor of Portland, and Viridor Credits, who provided cornerstone funding of £850,000. With the help of local volunteers and Portland based contractors cotoneaster is now all but gone from key sites, and what remains is the Portland Quarries Nature Park – a haven for both wildlife and people.


                  Before Management                                  After Treatment

Project Achievements 

* 200 hectares of Biodiversity Action Plan Limestone grassland restored from impact of invasive Cotoneaster. 

* 200 tonnes of cotoneaster has been removed since 2011. The largest single patch Cotoneaster measured over 3600m². 

* Butterflies like Lulworth Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Small Blue, Chalkhill Blue, Adonis Blue and Grayling were all recorded in higher numbers from 2012-2015. 

* The Silver Studded Blue has seen a tenfold increase in numbers. 

* In 2014 there was a 120% increase from 2011 in plant species such as horseshoe vetch and salad burnet. 

* 3,500 volunteer days were carried out over the three year project. Including placement students, corporate members and local people. 

* Employment opportunities created for local people. 

* Portland Quarries Nature Park has been formed to focus local nature conservation efforts, interpret Portland’s quarry ecology and historical history, as a legacy to local residents and visitors. 

* A 10 year island-wide management plan has been established to ensure the long-term sustainability of the island’s wildlife and habitats.

Please click here for full report and images of progress

Albion Stone, a fourth generation family business pride ourselves on having a helpful and skilled workforce as well as modern and traditional manufacturing process to enable us to produce the highest quality Portland Stone with minimal environmental impact.