RANGERS are forming a volunteer work party to help restore protected heathland in Purbeck.

The weekly volunteers will help with an ongoing restoration project at Turnerspuddle Heath, a site owned and managed by Dorset Council, between Briantspuddle and Bovington.

Purbeck countryside ranger Paul Kitchen said: "This work is vital to restore Turnerspuddle Heath back to its former glory, and with the help of volunteers, this work can be done this winter.”

Work will be carried out to improve the heathland habitat for endangered species including Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and smooth snake.

Volunteers will help remove invasive Gorse and Rhododendron to increase areas of heather and grassland and increase the variety of habitats, says Dorset Council

Work parties will meet every Thursday at the cattle grid at Turnerspuddle from December 19.

The day will start at 9am and run until 2pm.

Equipment and light refreshments will be provided but volunteers are requested to bring suitable clothing, footwear and lunch.

A Dorset Council spokesman said: "All are welcome and full training and equipment will be provided.

If you can help, please contact Paul Kitchen on 0774 1331590 or email Paul.Kitchen@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk"

Turnerspuddle Heath is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Conservation Area, Special Protection Area and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.

The Purbeck Ranger Team is part of the Dorset Council Coast and Greenspace team, working across the Dorset Council area to provide, protect and develop open spaces.

Turnerspuddle Heath incorporates an area of 14 hectares of predominantly lowland heathland with valley mire and wet heath.

Lowland heathland has declined greatly over the past 200 years.

According to some estimates only one sixth of the heathland present in 1800 remains across the UK today.

The UK also supports about 20 per cent of all lowland heath in Europe.

Visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk for further information on Turnerspuddle Heath.