A FINAL push of £5,000 has completed the match-funding target for a grant of £2.7million, ensuring the protection of Dorset heathland.

The generous £5,000 donation from Haskins Garden Centres Ltd has enabled Dorset Wildlife Trust and its partners to gain the Heritage Lottery Fund grant for its Great Heath Living Landscape project.

The aim is to protect and manage land which provides a wildlife-rich habitat for rare and threatened species, including the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles, such as the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard.

Warren Haskins, chairman of Haskins, 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.”

Brian Bleese, the trust’s director of operations, added: “We are very grateful to Haskins Garden Centres for this generous donation which has helped DWT to reach its fundraising target for the Great Heath Living Landscape Project.

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

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

The next phase will create a network of access across the area and there will be events and volunteering activities.

However the project still needs funds for associated projects such as improving access, land management and site interpretation.

For information visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk