STUDLAND is set to benefit from a share of £4.1 million in National Lottery funding to partners including the National Trust for the conservation of threatened dune landscapes.

The Studland peninsula is looked after by the trust as a national nature reserve and includes the largest area of dune heath on the south coast.

Dune heath is a "halfway house" between the marram grass covered dunes and the lowland heath habitats for which Dorset is renowned, but is currently under threat from invasive scrub which overshadows open areas loved by rare species such as sand lizards.

The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to the Dynamic Dunescapes project will enable the trust to develop innovative ways of restoring a diverse and vibrant habitat.

Ideas include extending the existing conservation grazing scheme into new areas and even using Studland’s popularity for days out as a conservation tool.

Trampling and grazing by cattle can help wildlife by recreating the sort of conditions which existed in Studland for hundreds of years and humans can also help with the "helpful disturbance" of designated areas which could, in turn, reduce the need for mechanical scrub clearance and burning and help create a sustainable balance.

National Trust ecologist David Brown said: "The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help us protect the natural environment of Studland while allowing the public to continue enjoying this glorious stretch of coastline.

“That’s important because all around the British coastline our dune systems are in ecological decline. We need to find sustainable ways to ensure there is always enough of the open sandy habitats that dune wildlife depends on.”

Nationally, the Dynamic Dunescapes partnership is led by Natural England and includes Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and Natural Resources Wales along with the National Trust. The partners will now spend the next year developing detailed proposals for final approval with the aim of starting work in 2019.