DORSET Wildlife Trust (DWT) has received £61,900 of funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to invest in a historic landscape.

The project at Gillingham Royal Forest will run for three years and aims to engage the community with the natural history of this historic landscape.

The natural heritage of the forest includes ancient hedgerows and woodlands, with a high density of veteran trees, ponds and chalk stream head lands.

Protected species of bats, great crested newts, otters and water voles all live in the forest.

Nicki Brunt, DWT Living Landscape Manager, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we will be able to improve access along two walking routes, with leaflets and interpretation about the heritage. The funding will also enable us to work with partners to run a series of events such as walks and talks and to provide opportunities to learn rural skills and take part in practical conservation work.”

Stuart Hobley from The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “As someone who grew up in this corner of Dorset, I’m delighted that Gillingham Royal Forest is now part of that story.”

Town mayor Cllr Barry Von Clemens said: "Gillingham Town Council is highly supportive of this project and is looking forward to working with others to promote the heritage of the area and to deliver exciting opportunities for everyone to get involved.

This story first appeared in the Dorset Echo.