A SECOND Dorchester cemetery could be designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.

Fordington Cemetery achieved the status in 2020 and could soon be followed by the larger Weymouth Avenue cemetery.

A survey carried out there last summer (2020) revealed that it was richer in wildflowers and grasses than originally thought, including several species which are considered ‘notable’ for Dorset.

Among the rare finds are a type of willowherb, field woodrush, creeping cinquefoil, cat’s-ear, knapweed, glaucous sedge, groundsel and prickly sow-thistle.

Town council outdoor services manager Carl Dallison said that the plants had survived under the current mowing regime so he would not anticipate any major changes to the management of the cemetery being made, unlike Fordington where mowing was reduced and delayed at certain times of the year.

“The application for the area for SNCI designation would have little impact on existing maintenance regimes, appearance or users. It is possible that some slight changes may be made in the future to encourage or discourage species but the intention is to not change the regime in a substantive way,” Mr Dallison told a town management committee meeting.

The original cemetery site was purchased by the Burial Board in 1856 when Fordington Cemetery became full and was subsequently increased in size over the years. It is run today by Dorchester Town Council.

Plant surveyor Miles King said in a report to the town council that the most species rich areas are in the oldest parts of the cemetery with a number of butterflies also present when he survey the site in June 2020.

The award of the designation will be at the recommendation of Dorset Wildlife Trust who will now oversee an application together with proposals for how the council aim to maintain, or improve, the area for wildlife.

The committee welcomed making the application for SNCI status. Said Cllr David Leaper: “If it encourages people to come and see the cemetery it’s fantastic and we should welcome it.”