A NEW nature park has been launched in the very heart of the busy town of Poole.

“It’s wildlife on your doorstep in a very visceral way,” said Brian Bleese, director of operations and development at Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Representatives of the trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners and Borough of Poole gathered by the side of Holes Bay, close to the busy dual-carriageway, to unveil the first information board.

Part of the Great Heath project, 100 hectares of Holes Bay, which attracts internationally important numbers of waders and ducks, was bought from the Canford Estate for £225,000 by a partnership led by DWT.

“The nature park will consist of nature reserves, specialist bird sensitive areas and newly designated shellfish refuges to help protect wildlife,” said DWT chief executive, Dr Simon Cripps.

The aim is to bring together landowners, local communities and local businesses to enjoy and help look after this special place which includes footpaths, cycle tracks, Upton Country Park, marinas and boat moorings.

“This has big benefits for residents and more importantly for the habitats and wildlife which we are very passionate about,” said Cllr Xena Dion, Borough of Poole cabinet portfolio holder for the environment.

As well as feeding overwintering waders such as redshank, avocet and black-tailed godwit, and ducks including shellduck and wigeon, the mud supports more than 80 species including fish and the king rag worm, while rare orchid species thrive in the grassland.

Nigel Webb, chairman of DWT said: “There is not only connectivity for the wildlife but a high quality environment for the people who live around.”

Richard Lacey, chairman of Poole Harbour Commissioners, pointed out they were responsible for operating, “a commercial port inside a big nature reserve”.

PHC chief executive Jim Stewart added: “As guardians of Poole Harbour, conservation is an interest we take very seriously.

“We feel it is important to work closely with local people in order to protect the natural environment for future generations.”