Thanks to the outstanding grant of £2.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £2 million from local fundraising, Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and its partners have now purchased 20 lots (almost 1500 acres) of outstanding wildlife habitat as part of the major new conservation project in east Dorset, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, ‘The Great Heath Living Landscape’.
The Great Heath Living Landscape is a partnership of Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. The project is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council. Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Natural England.
The areas purchased include: Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Holes Bay, Parley Common and Ferndown Common. These sites 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 (NIA), with high quality access and interpretation to connect dozens of sites across the area.
Now the land has been purchased, 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 outside spaces around them, meet new people, and volunteer to help wildlife.
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.
“We still need funds to enable us to complete the access and engagement phase of the Great Heath Living Landscape Project. If you are interested in finding out more about The Great Heath Living Landscape, or donate to our appeal, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/the_great_heath”