DORSET Wildlife Trust (DWT) will be undertaking heathland and mire restoration at Winfrith and Tadnoll nature reserves as part of a large-scale restoration project.

The project, supported and funded by Natural England through Defra’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme, aims to restore and enhance more than six hectares of heathland and 1.2 hectares of mire.

Starting this month, the works will involve clearance of birch, pine and gorse scrub which have gradually encroached onto the nationally and internationally protected heathland sites.

DWT’s south and east Dorset reserves manager, Leo Henley-Lock said, “The Tadnoll and Winfrith nature reserves are spectacular sites for wildlife.

"Dorset’s heathland wildlife and heathlands across the UK are under increasing pressure from development and rising visitor numbers. The project offers a fantastic opportunity to restore and enhance important areas of these sites – helping to secure a future for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife."

Restoration will also include infilling of selected drainage ditches in order to slow waterflow and create wet areas which would have historically provided good quality habitat for wildlife.

The UK hosts 20 per cent of the world's heathland of which Dorset’s heaths make an important contribution.

The project will improve habitat for some of Dorset’s most iconic bird and reptile species, such as the Dartford warbler and smooth snake.

Natural England’s team leader for Dorset Ian Alexander, said “We are very pleased to be able to offer Dorset Wildlife Trust funding for these restoration works through Defra’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

"We expect this project to play an important role in enhancing and safeguarding these nationally and internationally designated sites for years to come.”

Visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves for more information about Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Tadnoll and Winfrith Heath nature reserves.