Dorset opens first ever 'super' national nature reserve

Dorset opens first ever 'super' national nature reserve

Published by George Sharpe at 12:49pm 19th March 2020. (Updated at 1:02pm 19th March 2020)

The country's very first 'super' national nature reserve has been created on Purbeck Heaths.

A partnership that will see seven landowners bring their expertise together to manage the newly designated, National Trust protected area.

The National Trust, Natural England, RSPB, Forestry England, the Rempstone Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Amphibian and reptile conservation are in partnership to bring forward the land-scape conservation of the area.

Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve

Chairman of Natural England is Tony Juniper says:

"This new super NNR (National Nature Reserve) is the product of collaboration and determination to make a real difference to landscape resilience and nature recovery in the south of England. 

"As we are facing twin and deepening issues in the need to address climate change and an increasingly unstable future for our wildlife, Purbeck Heaths demonstrates how we can work together to turn this around, to make a significant difference to the future of wildlife and our own wellbeing."

Animals and plants home to the heathland include:

  • Six native reptiles, including endangered smooth snakes and sand lizards.
  • Birds, nightjars, Dartford Warblers and woodlarks. 
  • At least 12 species of bats.
  • Insects including Britain's rarest dragonfly and the Purbeck Mason wasp.
  • Dorset's only colony of small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies.
  • Rare plants include, great sundews and lesser butterfly orchids. 
  • Two types of fungi not found anywhere else in England and Wales. 

Doug Ryder of the Rempstone Estate is a private landowner, he says: 

"The Rempstone Estate, together with the National Trust and RSPB, owns the majority of the heath and former heath on the south side of Poole Harbour. 

"It includes Rempstone Forest (Which is let by the Estate to forestry England) and environmentally rich land to the south of the forest and also north to the harbour's edge.

"The estate sees the benefit of a combined management approach to enhance the environment while balancing that with the continued need to operate a viable, rural estate for all those who derive their livelihood from it."

The area also includes the Burnbake Forest Lodges and campsite which is owned by the estate.

To help tackle the decline in nature, the new Purbeck Heaths national nature reserve are building a resilient green space, so that the 41 species in decline have a better chance of adapting and thriving in the current climate crisis.

The new National Nature Reserve is 8231 acres and is expanding by 5770 acres making the new space more than three times its original size.

Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve

The expansion will make the Purbeck Heaths the largest lowland in the country, allowing the species the move around the landscape more easily.

It will also benefit the public, by giving them the chance to explore, which will benefit to people's health and wellbeing.

The reserve has lowland wet and dry heath, valley mires, acid grassland and woodland, with coastal sand dunes, lakes and saltmarsh. There are also conifer plantations that are being carefully restored to heathland.