DORSET Wildlife Trust has reached its fundraising target for the Great Heath Living Landscape Project.

A donation of £5,000 from Haskins Garden Centres allowed the trust and its partners to reach the match-funding target for a grant of £2.7million. The grant comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project will protect and manage land which provides wildlife-rich habitats for rare and threatened species.

This includes the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles, such as the rare smooth snake and sand lizard, which are both found on Dorset heathland.

With help from the grant and £2million of local fundraising, the trust and partners have purchased nearly 1,500 acres of wildlife-rich land in east Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

The Great Heath Living Landscape project will manage this land for the benefit of both wildlife and people.

Warren Haskins, chairman of Haskins Garden Centres, which has a branch in Ferndown, said: “As a child living in the region I explored many of the local heaths and woodland and enjoyed the variety of wildlife to be seen.

“I’m delighted that these areas are now to be protected by the trust.”

The next phase of the project will create an enhanced access network across the whole area and will deliver thousands of opportunities for people to learn about their national heritage.

Activities include events and volunteering activities to get local people involved with wildlife conservation in the area.

Brian Bleese, director of operations at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “We are very grateful to Haskins Garden Centres for this generous donation which has helped Dorset Wildlife Trust to reach its fundraising target for the Great Heath Living Landscape Project.

“We are pleased that so many individuals, schools, local groups and business, both large and small have recognised the importance of this project for both people and wildlife and have chosen to support it.”

The Great Heath Living Landscape Project still requires funding for associated projects to enable long-term management of the sites purchased.

Funding will go towards improving access, management of the land and site interpretation. To donate or to find out more about events and volunteering, visit dorsetwildlife