Environmental organisations in Dorset are celebrating following news that there is investment of over £1.5M for the countryside of Purbeck.
The money has been awarded as the ‘Wild Purbeck’ bid to become one of only 12 Nature Improvement Areas in England has been successful.
Funding of over £626,000 will come from Government’s Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) Programme, helping to enhance wildlife sites.
The local bid, co-ordinated by the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty partnership, supported by Dorset County Council, was a partnership between nine key environmental organisations, who will match the investment, meaning a total of £1.5m for the area.
Congratulations from Environment Secretary
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "I'd like to congratulate Wild Purbeck on becoming one of the first 12 Nature Improvement Areas. Each of these projects has something different to offer - from the urban areas of Birmingham and the Black Country to the rivers and woods of North Devon; from marshes, coalfields and wetlands to woodland and arable chalkland and grassland.
"The exciting wildlife projects are the result of different organisations all working together with a common purpose - to safeguard our wildlife for generations to come."
Purbeck was chosen as one of the new NIAs because of its amazing wildlife wealth and the pressures it faces. With internationally important heathlands, one of the largest natural harbours in the world, the Jurassic Coast, valley wetlands and much more, the diversity of plants and wildlife is phenomenal. Over 80 per cent of British mammal and butterfly species and 90 per cent bird species can be found in Purbeck, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and bird spotters.
Great news for Purbeck
“It’s great news for Purbeck” said Tom Munro, Dorset AONB Manager, who co-ordinated the bid, “Not only will the support make a big difference to Purbeck’s wildlife, it will help to engage local communities in managing their landscape too.”
Living Landscapes good for people and wildlife too
Andrew Pollard, Living Landscapes Manager at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “‘Having a Nature Improvement Area for Purbeck is fantastic news for both the wildlife and the people who live, work and visit there. By working with our partners and local people, we can help to protect Purbeck’s magnificent biodiversity and bring back Living Landscapes for all in this beautiful corner of Dorset.”
Grazing on heaths and wetland works on Frome and around Poole Harbour
Proposals for the Nature Improvement Area scheme include introducing grazing to large blocks of ungrazed heathland, re-creating high quality heathland on Forestry Commission land and wetland works on the Frome floodplain and around Poole Harbour.
Another key area of work is planning and research to make the area more resilient to the impacts of climate change. A fire management plan will be produced to reduce the impact of fires on Purbeck’s internationally important heathlands.
Robert Gould, Dorset County Council cabinet member for environment, added:
“A strong history of partnership working in the area gave us a sound basis on which to develop this exciting next phase of conservation in this important area.”
David Hodd of the National Trust said:
“Purbeck's special landscapes will greatly benefit from the NIA programme - not only will we be able to get big areas of heathland back into grazing, but some of our Ancient Woodlands will be cared for by local people."
The benefits aren’t for wildlife alone the funding will also help boost the local economy, by developing new products including a Wild Purbeck venison brand and woodfuel briquettes from wood products removed during heathland management.
Working with partners
Partners in the bid include the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dorset County Council, National Trust, RSPB, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group SW, Kingston Maurward College and Natural England.
They will be working closely together and with a range of other relevant organisations to deliver the three-year scheme from April.
Click here to read an Article from Richard Benyon, Enviroment Minister - for The Wildlife Trusts Launch of the Nature Improvement Areas
1. Wild Purbeck area
The Nature Improvement Area covers 45,000 hectares centred on Wareham. It includes all of Poole Harbour and follows the coast to Ringstead; Puddletown Forest is its north-western corner and Corfe Mullen its north-eastern. An indicative map can be seen here: http://g.co/maps/25sww
2. Nature Improvement Areas
The Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) Programme with funding of £7.5 million has been established as announced by Defra in the Natural Environment White Paper (2011).
Nature Improvement Areas are large, discrete areas that will deliver a step change in nature conservation, where a local partnership has a shared vision for their natural environment.
With the support of Natural England, Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission, the partnership will plan and deliver significant improvements for wildlife and people through the sustainable use of natural resources, restoring and creating wildlife habitats, connecting local sites and joining up local action.
3. The Wild Purbeck Partnership
The bid was led by the Dorset AONB team on behalf of the following partners:
• Dorset AONB Partnership
• Dorset County Council
• Dorset Wildlife Trust
• Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West
• Forestry Commission
• Kingston Maurward College
• Natural England
• National Trust
• Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
A Wild Purbeck Coordinator is to be recruited.