Help us win Nature Reserve of the Year

A view of Studland Bay with the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards nominee logo

The crowded south of England offers few places where we can truly get close to nature, which is what makes this glorious slice of coastal wilderness so special.

The very existence of the National Nature Reserve at Studland Bay is testimony to the 20th century’s growing appreciation of natural spaces, based as it is on the work of pioneering ecologist Captain Cyril Diver in the 1920s.

It is thanks to him that Studland was protected from development and its mixture of rare lowland heath, dunes, and wetlands remain home to species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar and all six native British reptiles.

The National Trust has been looking after Studland Bay since the 1980s, and in 2013 we formed a partnership with local naturalists to revisit Diver’s work 80 years on.

A close encounter with a smooth snake on Studland Heath
Volunteers with a smooth snake on Studland Heath
A close encounter with a smooth snake on Studland Heath

An army of citizen scientists collected a wealth of data, building up a picture of how Studland had changed over time and laying the foundations for better, more responsive management in future.

Why is that important? Studland and Godlingston heath together form a superb example of lowland heath, a threatened habitat of international importance.

The mudflats fringing Poole Harbour are a nutrient-rich feeding ground for waders and ducks, while sea meets land in the South Coast’s largest expanse of rare dune heath.

Freshwater Little Sea lake is at the centre of a network of wetlands whose inaccessibility have made them a haven for specialist plants and animals.

A glorious slice of wilderness on the busy south coast
The Studland peninsula
A glorious slice of wilderness on the busy south coast

But perhaps the real importance of Studland lies in its potential to inspire tomorrow’s Cyril Divers.

Not many national nature reserves attract more than a million visitors a year.

Most are drawn to its sandy beaches, but nature trails introduce families to wildlife spotting while well placed hides cater for experienced bird watchers and casual visitors alike.

A year round programme of education events and volunteering keeps Studland National Nature Reserve is at the heart of the community and our commitment to making it accessible means it can be enjoyed by anyone.