Heathland saved by lottery fundingBy Stephen Lloyd
January 03, 2013
HISTORIC heathland in North East Hampshire has been saved thanks to a massive lottery boost.
The RSPB has received £859,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to carry out major improvements at Hazeley Heath just north of Hartley Wintney.
The cash will be used to carry out essential conservation work to improve the habitat and enhance the site for wildlife.
Footpaths will be maintained and low key information points about the site’s heritage will be installed.
Hazeley Heath is a small fragment of the once extensive heather, gorse and shrub habitat which covered much of South East England.
Experts believe that if managed sensitively, the site can once again be home to many highly specialised species of plants and animals.
It is already a Site of Special Scientific Interest and makes up part of the wider Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area for several species of birds including woodlarks, nightjars and Dartford warblers.
For centuries the area was used as an active common where local people would graze animals, gather wood and cut turf for fuel.
Such activities created a unique habitat rich in biodiversity.
However, the 20th century saw the heath used for military training, clay and sand extraction and landfill.
Chris Corrigan, regional director for RSPB South East England, said: “This is an exciting development for us as Hazeley Heath is a tremendous piece of heathland.
“We are grateful to the Timpany family for providing the opportunity to purchase the site and for allowing us time to secure grant funding for the acquisition, as without that patience the project would not have been able to proceed.”
Sara Kinnell, Hart District Council’s cabinet member for leisure and environmental promotion, said: “We are delighted with the news that the RSPB have been successful in gaining an HLF grant and would like to offer our congratulations to those involved in this important step forward for heathland preservation. We would also like to welcome them to the Hazeley Heath Partnership and I know we are all looking forward to working together in delivering a positive future for our local heathland and for those who enjoy visiting this wonderful wildlife haven.”
Stuart McLeod, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said the project will help stimulate people’s interest in their local natural heritage and enable them to play an active role in helping to protect it for the future.
“This is a great example of how Lottery money will bring benefits to people of all ages, whether through volunteering, or simply enjoying their wonderful surroundings, whilst conserving a delicate ecological environment,” he added.