A GRANT of £2.7million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £2million from local fundraising is enabling Dorset Wildlife Trust to buy nearly 1,500 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat.

The purchases are part of a major new conservation project in east Dorset, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch called The Great Heath Living Landscape.

The project is a partnership of Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.

It is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council. Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Natural England.

The areas purchased include Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Holes Bay, Parley Common and Ferndown Common, which provide habitats for many rare and threatened species, including the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles, including the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard.

The project will link two outstanding areas of natural heritage; the New Forest National Park to the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area.

To find out more, or donate to the project, go to www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/the_great_heath