The Great Heath Living Landscape

A Dorset Landscape

The Great Heath once covered most of south-east Dorset, from Purbeck to the New Forest, broken only by river valleys and small settlements. Now it is a diverse landscape of heathland, farmland, woods and wetlands entwined with the conurbation of Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and east Dorset.

Read our project report.

If you experiece difficulty using this link a downloadable pdf is available here.

Saved for Wildlife and People

When a significant area of The Great Heath came up for sale by the Canford Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust formed a partnership (Urban Wildlink) to secure these precious habitats and green spaces. The partners took this unique opportunity to give nature a future across the conurbation by creating Dorset's first urban 'Living Landscape' for people and wildlife.  


The outstanding achievements of The Great Heath Living Landscape Project would not have been possible without the National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with the generous support of The Erica Trust, Colin Panter, Natural England, the Brockington legacy, the Fine Foundation, Dorset Wildlife Trust members and the local community.

The Great Heath Partners

The Great Heath partnership, led by Dorset Wildlife Trust, involves Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, The Erica Trust, Borough of Poole, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Dorset County Council, Christchurch and East Dorset Councils and Bournemouth Borough Council.

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We want The Great Heath Living Landscape to be rich in wildlife and highly valued, enjoyed and nurtured by people.


To purchase land to secure nature sites for wildlife and people.

589 hectares secured for wildlife and people.

The nature of The Great Heath is incredible, with some of the most important wildlife habitats in the country right on our doorsteps.

" I want to be able to pass on a Living Landscape for my grandchildren."  Denise Cuthbert, Upton


To improve connections and access to the countryside, creating a network of connected sites with high-quality access and interpretation, linking and improving trails, including the Castleman Trailway and Stour Valley Way.

28 sites with new interpretation and improved access.

"The walk through Ashington Cutting to Happy Bottom Nature Reserve was a delight." Michael, guided walk participant


To provide new opportunities for everyone to enjoy and learn about our local wildlife and play a part in its conservation.

386 events attended by 18,584 people.

"There is so much to learn and discover." Robert Gomm, Ferndown  

Further Reading:


Click on the map above to enlarge, or see an even larger copy here.

Birdwatching at Upton

Birdwatch at Upton Heath by Nicky Hoar

Lytchett Bay Poole Harbour N HOAR

Lytchett Bay by Nicky Hoar

Reptile Ramble I JULIAN - Copy

Reptile Ramble by I Julian

Ashington Cutting bridge N HOAR - Copy

Ashington Cutting Bridge by Nicky Hoar

Marisa on Upton Heath N HOAR - Copy

Marisa on Upton Heath by Nicky Hoar



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