Dorset's new landscape scale National Nature Reserve

Purbeck is one of the most wildlife rich places in the UK and has gained further recognition with the declaration of the new Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve (NNR).

Declared on 21st February 2020, the new NNR covers 3,331 hectares (8,231 acres). It stretches from Grange Heath in the west to Studland in the east and from the Arne peninsula in the north to Norden in the south, and is now the largest area of lowland heath managed as a single nature reserve in England. It envelops three existing NNRs at Hartland Moor, Stoborough Heath and Studland and Godlingston Heath and adds new land to form a new ‘super’ National Nature Reserve at landscape scale.

This is a product of collaboration and determination to make a real difference to nature recovery. The Purbeck Heaths NNR partners are: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, National Trust, Natural England, Rempstone Estate and the RSPB. By working together we aim to restore natural processes across the whole NNR, making it more resilient to climate change and other pressures. We will also create a better experience for people enjoying the heathland, whilst protecting sensitive areas.

The declaration is an important step towards the goals of the National Nature Reserve Strategy which sees NNRs contributing to nature recovery in in the 21st Century.

NNRs are some of the most important wildlife sites in England. They are declared by Natural England and collectively have three core purposes: nature conservation and recovery, scientific research and connecting people and nature.

Middlebere heath, with Corfe Castle in the mist

The Purbeck Heaths NNR is at the heart of the Wild Purbeck initiative, lead by the Dorset AONB team to bring organisations together for wildlife. Find out more about Wild Purbeck and it’s current focus to develop a large scale, single grazing unit in the National Nature Reserve, thanks to the support of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.