HYDE'S Heath on the Arne Peninsula has been acquired by the RSPB.

The 67-hectare former heathland site has been folded into the existing RSPB Arne nature reserve, following a successful appeal backed by the charity's supporters.

It was also made possible through support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Betty Liebert Trust and The Derek Allpass Foundation.

Peter Robertson, senior site manager for the RSPB in Dorset, said: "By providing vital heathland habitat, Hyde’s Heath will have a real, tangible impact on our efforts to save nature, giving a home to some of our rarest and most vulnerable wildlife, including woodlarks, nightjars, and sand lizards."

The RSPB plans to restore the former forestry plantation to heathland. A number of pine trees have been removed from the area, and heathland vegetation is being re-established.

The site is currently open to visitors and a new trail has even been opened.

However, it will be closed to dogs because of the risks posed to rare ground-nesting birds and other sensitive wildlife, says the RSPB.

Mr Robertson said: “Our new Hyde’s Heath visitor trail is a stunning addition for visitors to RSPB Arne, who will not only be able to see some of our stunning heathland wildlife but also get amazing views of the Arne peninsula, Poole Harbour and across Purbeck.”

The project has been awarded £577,800 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

National Lottery Heritage Fund area director for London and the southern England, Stuart Hobley, said: "Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, Hyde’s Heath is set to become a vital haven for both wildlife and visitors.

"Protecting our natural heritage and ensuring as many people as possible can play a part in its future is a key priority National Lottery funding so we’re delighted to support this project."