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Dorset is home to UK’s first ‘super’ national nature reserve

Purbeck Heath, Dorset © Shutterstock

Seven partners have joined forces to create the nation’s first ‘super’ National Nature Reserve (NNR) to protect wildlife on Purbeck Heaths in Dorset.

The reserve will cover 3,331 hectares of land, expanding the current NNR in Purbeck by 2,335 hectares. The expansion will create the largest lowland heathland NNR in the UK. The aim is to build resilience into the landscape to tackle the 41 per cent decline in rare species since 1970.

The National Trust has designated a further 644 hectares of land in the NNR, building on the 746 hectares it already has. 

The seven partners are:

  • The National Trust;
  • Natural England; 
  • RSPB; 
  • Forestry England; 
  • the Rempstone Estate; 
  • Dorset Wildlife Trust; and 
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

The super NNR will combine three existing NNRs at Stoborough Heath, Hartland Moor, and Studland and Godlingston Heath. These will be linked by new land including nature reserves and conservation areas managed by the seven partners (see box).

Mark Harold, director of land and nature at the National Trust, said: “For generations to come, Purbeck Heaths will be at the heart of a healthy, resilient landscape brimming with wildlife. As well as creating a special place for wildlife to recover and move around freely, we hope to inspire people to engage with nature and explore the great outdoors.

“All the rare and beautiful wildlife living in and beyond the reserve will benefit hugely from a landscape where habitats are bigger, in better condition and better connected – and where natural processes are restored. Here, they will be able to spread and build more resilient populations.”

The 2.5 million visitors at Purbeck each year will benefit from more opportunities to explore and in turn help to improve everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Image credit | Shutterstock