Big boost for Purbeck’s heathland as it gets large government grant

Heathland across Purbeck is set for a regeneration drive after Dorset secured more than three quarters of a million pounds in government funding.

As part of the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the Dorset Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) is set to receive at total of £763,900 to assist two key environmental projects in the county.


A large share of this money will go to help revitalise the Purbeck heathlands, which is part of a reserve that covers a vast 3,331 hectares of land across the peninsula, all the way from Grange Heath to Studland and from the Arne peninsula to Norden.

Studland dunes

Studland dunes

A vast lowland heathland mosaic

The project, which will help establish a vast lowland heathland mosaic for grazing animals, will get £549,900 of the pledged money. This work aims to help support and diversify the area’s wildlife, and will also support 19 local jobs.

Another £214,000 will go towards restoring and conserving land across West Dorset including the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve north west of Bridport.

Rempstone in Purbeck

Rempstone Forest

“Backbone of a nature recovery network for England”

Tom Munro, Dorset AONB Manager said: 

“We’re really looking forward to getting started on both projects which complement our existing work to conserve and enhance natural beauty, and help demonstrate that AONBs and National Parks can be the backbone of a nature recovery network for England. In addition, we’ll support around 19 local jobs, which is a huge bonus in this difficult time.”

An AONB is an area of land earmarked for protection by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. As well as Dorset, other AONBs in the South West include Cranborne Chase, the Mendips and the Quantocks.

Studland looking across to Old Harry Rocks

Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve

Purbeck’s new nature reserve – the Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve – was announced on February 21st 2020.

Dr Phil Stirling, the Dorset AONB Chairman, said:

“The Dorset AONB Team has led these two successful bids, bringing together a range of farmers and delivery partners including Dorset Wildlife Trust, National Trust and the RSPB. 

“This is what the AONB does best – taking a strategic role to agree priorities for action and drawing in new resources to get vital ‘on the ground’ work done. This work will not only benefit wildlife but contribute to sustaining local enterprises. 

“We are also delighted to be connecting with local communities and are pleased these projects will help support them in the challenging times they face during the continuing pandemic and beyond.”

Agglestone rock in Purbeck

Agglestone Rock looking across to Arne and Poole Harbour

Green Recovery Challenge

The Green Recovery Challenge is part of the government’s initiative for recovery of the country’s nature.

This includes grants from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) of between £62,000 and £3.8 million.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: 

“We are very proud to be part of the AONB partnership, supporting their work by hosting the team within the organisation and forming part of this bid. This award shows that working together to protect and enhance the natural environment has a whole range of benefits.”

Further information

To find out more, visit the Dorset AONB website.

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