The Lorton Valley nature park in Weymouth has been officially opened by Lord Seb Coe, which coincides with the first anniversary of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
The nature park aims to connect green space owned and managed by a partnership of conservation organisations including Dorset Wildlife Trust and local councils which form part of the ‘Natural Weymouth & Portland Partnership.’
The 187 hectares is designed to benefit wildlife and people in the surrounding urban area, and promote public access between sites owned by Dorset Wildlife Trust, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Dorset County Council.
The Lorton Valley nature park is also the starting point for the Legacy trail, which is 20 miles long and has been developed through Wild About Weymouth and Portland, a project funded by the Big Lottery Fund through Natural England’s Access to nature programme.
Lord Seb Coe said: “Projects like these encourage people to be curious about the landscape you live in, and how it can be used. Lorton Valley Nature Park can inspire people to be imaginative about what you can do to utilise your open spaces by understanding the nature and the history of your area.”
Sam Dallimore, DWT Conservation Officer at Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre, said: “It is not often we join together with so many partners to create such a large green space within an urban area. This is an amazing and rare opportunity, and we want to encourage people in the surrounding areas to use and value the site now and for generations to come.”
Carl Dallison, Head of Open Spaces for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council said: “We are really excited about this great project and are pleased that after a lot of hard work from all the partners it has come to fruition. It is a great opportunity for users of the existing Lodmoor Country Park to move out into the wider nature park and learn more about what this great area has to offer.”
Students from All Saints School are already taking part in practical conservation tasks in the area, and have spent three days learning about conservation and nature with experts from Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Jasmine Darby, 11, from All Saints School said: “We are learning about how to take care of habitats for animals and we have been cutting down brambles and stinging nettles. We’ve enjoyed being outside in the sunshine and learning about how to take care of nature.”