ONE of the biggest conservation volunteering initiatives in the country takes place in Purbeck next month.

The annual 'Pull a Pine' event at RSPB Arne nature reserve sees hundreds of volunteers help restore endangered heathland, and enables them to collect their own sustainable Christmas tree as a thank you. The nature reserve will also hold its Christmas Fayre on the following day.

RSPB Arne visitor officer Samual Wrobel said: "RSPB Arne is home to some incredible species, many of which rely on heathland to survive – nightjar, smooth snake, Dartford warbler and ladybird spider.

"Heathland is an incredibly rare habitat, especially in the UK. If it is left unmanaged, invasive pine trees left from previous forestry plantations will take over this landscape.

"That’s why we need helping hands. We are calling all Christmas and nature lovers to join us to clear as many pine trees as possible from one of our newest areas of heathland on the reserve, helping save some of our amazing species.

"To thank people for their amazing work, they can take home a locally sourced, conservation Christmas tree, which they can choose themselves.

"We will have hot food and drink, live music and heaps of Christmas activities to get involved with as well.”

Pull a Pine is scheduled for Saturday, December 7, with the festive fayre taking place the following day.

Visitor experience officer Emily Dragon said: "We are holding a mini Christmas Fayre in our café garden with local stallholders offering nature themed products all with a planet friendly ethos.

"We’ll also have plenty of mulled cider and mince pies, and fantastic Christmas activities, including make your own reindeer.

"So, if people want to avoid the rush of Pull a Pine and still grab a tree there will be pre-cut pines available for £15 suggested donation to the RSPB.”

Pull a Pine takes place from11am-3pm, with the last entry at 2pm.

It costs £10 RSPB non-members, £8 RSPB members.

Visit www.rspb.org.uk/arne for further information.