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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Natural England declares new Purbeck Heaths ‘super’ National Nature Reserve

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An aerial view of Studland Heath next to a sandy beach and blue water with blue water and

There is positive coverage in the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Times, the Telegraph and BBC Online of Natural England’s declaration of Purbeck Heaths in Dorset as a ‘super’ National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The site is the UK’s first ‘super’ NNR – a concept which focuses on landscape-scale nature conservation and the ability to do more through partnerships. The new NNR combines three existing NNRs at Stoborough Heath, Hartland Moor, and Studland and Godlingston Heath, linking them with a significant amount of new land including iconic nature reserves and conservation areas.

The designation also brings in 2,335 hectares of new land under the NNR designation giving these areas stronger protections, linking habitats up, and restoring existing habitats for nature to thrive in. The move will give rare and varied wildlife, including the sand lizard, the Dartford warbler, and the silver studded blue butterfly, a better chance of adapting and thriving in light of the current climate crisis.

Purbeck Heaths has been designated by Natural England as the statutory conservation agency. The reserve will be managed by a steering group made up of representatives from each of the landowners.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

This new super nature reserve is a great example of what can be achieved through partnerships and collaboration. It demonstrates how by working together we can secure a brighter future for our wonderful natural environment. By creating bigger, better, and more joined-up wild places like this one, we will achieve big benefits for both people and wildlife.

In facing the twin and deepening challenges of global heating and wildlife loss, we need to think and act on a larger scale. Today’s move marks a shift in gear and a new era for nature recovery in England. Comparable ambition is visible in other partnerships that are established or forming across the country, not only setting the scene for species recovery, but also increased resilience to climate change.

Seven partners joined forces to create the 3,300 site, ranging from public, private and non-governmental sectors, including National Trust, Natural England, RSPB, Forestry England, the Rempstone Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

Defra Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

I commend all of the partners coming together to deliver this landmark milestone for wildlife and people – the UK’s first super National Nature Reserve. Purbeck Heaths is a trailblazing example of how landscape-scale conservation can help wildlife thrive, improve people’s well-being, and build resilience to climate change.

Through our landmark 25 Year Environment Plan we will deliver a greener future, and the collaborative spirit of Purbeck Heaths marks a significant step towards putting our ambitious plans to leave the environment in a better state than we found it into action.

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  1. Comment by William Hughes-Games posted on

    To be worthwhile, a nature reserve should include all of a discrete catchment.
    It should have no sheep on it
    It should have beavers in all the streams of the catchment
    If you can't fulfill these criteria, you have much less of a reserve than you could have.
    Lastly, if you want, introduce various plants that you think were once there but then get out and let nature take over. The animals will arrive on their own.