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Grant Helps Preserve 1,500 Acres of Dorset Woodland

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7:18am 4th February 2014

Dorset Wildlife Trust  and its partners are delighted to announce the award of a grant of £2.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund  towards The Great Heath Living Landscape project.

The Great Heath Living Landscape is one of the largest conservation projects in the UK.  The project, which will total £4.7 million, will secure the protection and management of almost 1,500 acres of wildlife rich heathland, grassland, woods and wetland for the benefit of people and wildlife in Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and East Dorset.  The HLF grant will enable the purchase of nationally and internationally important habitats at Holes Bay and Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour and heathlands at Parley Common, Ferndown Common, Dunyeats Hill and Upton Heath.  

The project aims to link two outstanding areas of natural heritage - the New Forest National Park and the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area - with high quality access and interpretation connecting dozens of sites across the area.  This will create thousands of opportunities for people to learn about, enjoy and play an active role in the conservation of this special area.

Heathland sites, such as Upton Heath, provide a home for many rare and threatened species, including the Dartford Warbler which is now thriving after numbers plummeted to just eleven breeding pairs nationally in the 1960s, 4 of which were in Dorset, following severe winter weather.  All 6 of the UK reptiles can be found on our heathland, including the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard which can only be seen in a few places in the UK.  

DWT Director of Operations, Brian Bleese, said, "Buying this land from the Canford Estate was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and thanks to the HLF funding, generous donations from the public, local businesses and funding from our partners, we can now develop an urban Living Landscape which is rich in wildlife, highly valued, enjoyed and nurtured by people.  We aim to provide high quality access networks and interpretation, to allow everyone to learn about and experience the stunning wildlife on their doorstep."
 
Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "Not only will The Great Heath Living Landscape project secure, protect and conserve vital parts of Dorset's natural heritage, it will also create a varied and exciting range of opportunities for people of all ages to get involved. Volunteers and visitors will have great fun while learning about the sites and their role in our biodiversity and how we can all work together to make sure they exist for future generations.

"It's also fantastic to see that some of these sites fall into our priority areas*, meaning historically these places have had less HLF funding than others. This project will provide local people with much improved access to the natural heritage and help drive local tourism."  

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