£562,400 National Lottery grant awarded to Wild Brownsea Project

Sandwich Tern islands on Brownsea Island by Paul Williams 

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has been awarded a £562,400 grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund towards the Wild Brownsea project. Wild Brownsea has also attracted funding from many other sources and the total project value is over £1,000,000.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the project will deliver new access, wildlife observation and learning facilities, together with a 3-year programme of activities to enable people of all backgrounds and abilities to learn about, enjoy and play an active role in managing the unique natural heritage of Brownsea Island.

Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour in Dorset and is home to a stunning array of wildlife.  For its size Brownsea Island is one of the most biodiverse sites in England. There are 334 plant species, 238 bird species, almost 1,000 beetle species and 900 moth species present on the island.  It is also one of the last strongholds in southern England for the iconic red squirrel.

The Brownsea Lagoon is perhaps the most striking wildlife feature of the whole island, with its shallow waters hosting important breeding colonies of sandwich and common terns and attracting thousands of over-wintering wading birds including flocks of avocets reaching 1300+ birds, almost half of the UK’s overwintering population.

Stuart Hobley, Area Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “The National Lottery is turning 25 this year. Since 1994 National Lottery players have raised an incredible £1.6billion for landscapes and nature. Nature is our oldest form of heritage and access to it can have huge benefits, it is also our responsibility to care for its future, which is why we have made funding for landscapes and nature a key priority for National Lottery funding.

“So we’re delighted to support this project which will transform access to Brownsea Island and put people at the heart of securing a bright future for the island for generations to come.”

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Director of Development, Brian Bleese, said, “This is wonderful news. The funding will help us build a sustainable future for the wildlife of Brownsea Island and to enable people to benefit from regular contact with nature.  Contact with nature has enormous health and wellbeing benefits and Wild Brownsea will realise the potential of Brownsea Island to engage and inspire people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to make the natural heritage part of their lives.”

Brownsea Island is owned by the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust has managed the northern section of the island since 1962.  Dorset Wildlife Trust will work closely with the National Trust to make sure that every visitor to Brownsea Island has a great wildlife experience and opportunities to explore and learn.

National Trust General Manager for Brownsea Island Angela Cott said: "We're delighted to hear that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is investing in Brownsea Island. We've been working together on plans to improve the way visitors experience the island, making navigation easier and sharing stories of the rich wildlife habitats and diverse history here. We are pleased to be working alongside our island partners, the Dorset Wildlife Trust, to do this; and we look forward to seeing work begin over the winter."

To find out more about volunteering opportunities with the  Wild Brownsea Project, click here or phone 01305 264620.