ALMOST 1,500 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat has been secured by Dorset Wildlife Trust as part of its major new conservation project.
With a grant of £2.7million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2m from local fundraising, 20 lots have been bought for the Great Heath Living Landscape project in East Dorset, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch.
The areas purchased include Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Holes Bay, Parley Common and Ferndown Common, which provide habitats for many rare and threatened species including the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles including the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard.
The project will link two outstanding areas of natural heritage, the New Forest National Park to the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area.
DWT’s director of operations, Brian Bleese said: “The purchase of this land is a real investment in the future of Dorset’s heritage, and will make a huge contribution to the quality of our natural environment for decades to come.
“We are very excited about taking the project into the next phase to help local people and communities benefit from the wealth of wildlife around them.”
Now the land has been bought, a three-year access and engagement project will begin across the Great Heath Living Landscape to create hundreds of new opportunities for people to enjoy and help conserve the natural environment.
These include a programme of events and activities to allow people to learn new skills, enjoy the countryside, meet new people, and volunteer to help wildlife.
The project is a partnership of DWT, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Trust.
It is supported by the councils of Bournemouth, Christchurch and East Dorset and Natural England.
Funds are still being sought and to find out more or donate go to dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/the_great_heath