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UK’s first ‘super’ National Nature Reserve created on Purbeck Heaths - Natural England

Landscape-scale conservation to help tackle climate change and benefit more than 2.5 million visitors.

Studland. Credit: National Trust & John Miller
Studland. Credit: National Trust & John Miller

With the increasing need for a bigger, better and more joined-up approach to nature conservation, seven leading partners have come together to help protect wildlife by creating the UK’s first ever ‘super’ National Nature Reserve (NNR) on the Purbeck Heaths in Dorset.

The new Purbeck Heaths NNR ‘knits’ together 11 types of priority habitat to enable wildlife to move more easily across the landscape. This will give rare and varied wildlife, including the sand lizard, the Dartford warbler, and the silver studded blue butterfly, a better chance of adapting and thriving in light of the current climate crisis.

The new super NNR combines three existing NNRs at Stoborough Heath, Hartland Moor, and Studland and Godlingston Heath linking them with a significant amount of new land including nature reserves and conservation areas managed by seven partners.

It is 3,331 hectares (8,231 acre) in total, expanding the current NNR in Purbeck by 2,335 hectares (5,770 acres). The new designation has resulted in a landscape-scale haven more than three times its original size, and similar in size to the town of Blackpool.

The expansion will create the largest lowland heathland NNR in the country providing tremendous benefits to wildlife by allowing all species the opportunity to move around the landscape more easily. Building resilience into the landscape will help tackle the decline in nature, with 41 per cent of species in decline in Britain since 1970.

It will also offer a public benefit by giving people more opportunity to explore and in turn help improve the health and wellbeing of more than 2.5 million people who visit Purbeck every year.

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