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  • What Is a 'Super National Nature Reserve'?

What Is a 'Super National Nature Reserve'?

May 05 2020 Read 613 Times

The UK has created its first “super national nature reserve”, or NNR for short, on Purbeck Heaths in Dorset in the south of England. Seven landowners have joined forces with a number of environmental organisations to unite 11 different kinds of priority habitat. In doing so, they have created a rich and biodiverse tract of land spanning 8,000 acres which will allow flora and fauna to live, move and adapt more easily.

Among other types of land, the Dorset NNR combines forested areas with heaths, salt marshes with sand dunes and reed beds with mires. As such, all kinds of animals, insects and plant life will be encouraged to thrive and navigate around the dynamic landscape, thus enhancing the biodiversity of Britain’s green spaces. At the same time, the land will become easier to monitor and manage in a naturalistic way, simplifying its care and reinforcing it against unforeseen future events.

The first of its kind

As the first “super” NNR, Purbecks Heath will incorporate three existing NNRs in the shape of Hartland Moor, Stoborough Heath and Studland and Godlingston Heath. Additionally, the 8,000-acre area will include several other nature reserves and conservation zones, as well as an 18-hole golf course which already manages its rough with biodiversity in mind.

Some of those involved in the conception and creation of the UK’s largest lowland heath include the National Trust, Natural England, the RSPB, Forestry England, Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Rempstone Estate, which is a privately-owned tract of land. “By creating bigger, better, and more joined-up wild places like this one, we will achieve big benefits for both people and wildlife,” explained Tony Juniper, the chairman of Natural England. “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.”

Lending a helping hand

At present, Purbeck Heaths is already one of the most biodiverse regions of the UK, home to more than 1,000 species of different kinds of wildlife. More than 450 of those are regarded as threatened, rare or protected, making the project a timely one. Aided by a better understanding of the physiology of birds and mammals, scientists and environmentalists are coming together to create an a habitat through which they can move more easily, meaning they’re not so dependent on a single location should disaster strike.

Some of those best placed to benefit from the new super NNR are all six native reptile species, including both the endangered sand lizard and at the at-risk smooth snake. There are plenty of rare insects and invertebrates (such as the Purbeck mason wasp and southern damselflies) which will thrive in the territory, while raptors such as hen harriers, hobbies, ospreys and stone chats will all prosper by feeding off them. Meanwhile, it’s not just flora that will flourish; carnivorous plants like sundews can also do well from enhanced wildlife in the area.

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