MORE than 500 hectares of Dorset wildlife habitats are to be revitalised thanks to a multi million pound fund.

Dorset Wildlife Trust has been awarded £1.1million worth of government funding for a project to create and revitalise habitats including woodlands and ponds across 18 sites in in the county.

The project will use locally based contractors for much of the habitat restoration work helping to maintain and strengthen countryside skills.

Four new full-time jobs will be created through the project, along with two traineeship opportunities.

There will also be interesting volunteer opportunities and many ways in which local communities can get involved.

The Species Survival Fund, developed by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is aimed at helping to halt and reverse the decline in species abundance by preserving vital habitats and creating nature-rich landscapes.

The trust’s Making Space for Nature project is one of 20 conservation projects across the UK which are all receiving a share of the £25 million government fund, which is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency. 

Dorset Echo: Lyscombe, near DorchesterLyscombe, near Dorchester (Image: James Burland)

A wide range of project sites across Dorset including a brand-new nature reserve at Lyscombe, near Dorchester, recently acquired meadow land at Kingcombe National Nature Reserve, near West Holme, and Brownsea Island Lagoon.

Other sites to benefit from the money will be Peascombe, near Loders, Nunnery Mead nature reserve, near Maiden Newton, Brooklands Farm in Charlton Down, East Stoke Fen, Kilwood nature reserve, near Wareham, Lower Common, Glebe Farm, near Shaftesbury, Fontmell Down, Winfrith, Bracketts Coppice, Upton Heath and Happy Bottom, near Wimborne.

The project will restore meadows, wetlands, and orchards and create wood pasture, grasslands, and ponds. All these habitats will drive species recovery.  

Andrew Pollard, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s director of conservation said: “Our vision for this project is to create thriving biodiversity hubs which will increase the abundance of wildlife species across Dorset.

"Nearly 400 hectares of this land has little or no wildlife interest currently and so when it is restored, it will help form new nature recovery networks through the county.

Dorset Echo: Kingcombe Meadows, Toller PorcorumKingcombe Meadows, Toller Porcorum (Image: Dani Wilson courtesy of Dorset Wildlife Trust)

"The funding will enable us to develop our land management services through which we advise and support neighbouring farmers and landowners with the aim of helping nature to recover, not just on our nature reserves but across the whole landscape.

"Our thanks go to Defra (Department for Food and Rural Affairs) and The National Lottery for giving us this incredible opportunity to do something positive now to protect the 3,000 species of wildlife in Dorset which have been identified as threatened, rare or protected.”  

Dorset Echo: Pond restoration at Powerstock Common Pond restoration at Powerstock Common (Image: James Cartwright courtesy of Dorset Wildlife Trust)Brian Bleese, Dorset Wildlife Trust chief executive added: “These are great career opportunities for people that share our passion and dedication for creating a wilder Dorset; we would like to hear from people who want to make a difference for nature and the environment.”

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