Ashdown Forest’s Vision for the Future


For centuries the Ashdown Forest has been a jewel in the Sussex landscape. Today environmental pressures, increased visitor numbers and reduced funding have left the Forest and its internationally important habitats and wildlife vulnerable.

To protect the area the Conservators – the body charged with conserving and preserving the area – is introducing a Vision for the future of the Forest. The plan details how the staff and volunteers will protect and enhance the landscape for future generations to enjoy.

Originally a deer hunting forest in Norman times, Ashdown Forest is now one of the largest free public access spaces in the South East. The Forest is at the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has national and international protection because of its lowland heath habitat and the rare species its supports.

James Adler Chief Executive of Ashdown Forest said:

Our mission is to protect, conserve and enhance the nature and culture of the Forest. Last year there were 1.4 million visits to the area and we want all our visitors to be inspired by our landscapes and wildlife. To do this we need a detailed plan. Our Vision document is the result of months of work and consultation which has the future health of Ashdown Forest at its heart.

James Adler, Chief Executive

Ashdown Forest covers a total area of 10 square miles and is home to specialist bird species of Dartford Warbler and Nightjar, plants such as Marsh Gentian and White beak sedge, all six native British reptiles and more arachnid species than any other UK habitat.

Marsh Gentian (photo courtesy of Craig Payne)

We want Ashdown Forest to be a place that is welcoming, inspiring and informative. To achieve this, we know that we must change the way we’ve operated traditionally. Our budget is constrained exactly at a time when understanding the importance of the Forest is growing and our responsibilities are increasing. We need to make some difficult and bold decisions over the next decade to make sure we protect our precious landscape.

James Adler, Chief Executive

Approximately half of the Forest’s £1 million comes from the Government, in the form of a Countryside Stewardship grant. The resources section of the plan flags a funding gap of over £100,000.

Robin St. Clair Jones is the Chair of The Ashdown Forest Foundation – the charitable body established to enable major fundraising. He said:

Our commitments to education, inclusivity and self-reflection come at a time when we all need to be better stewards of the natural world. We hope that a visit to The Ashdown Forest and engagement in all that it has to offer will ignite a passion for nature, within the local community and far beyond.

Robin St. Clair Jones, Chair of The Ashdown Forest Foundation

James Adler added:

As we approach Cop26 – a critically important international climate conference, it is important that Ashdown Forest plays its part in vital areas such as carbon capture and protecting biodiversity though protecting our rare species. Despite all the challenges we are excited about the future.

James Adler, Chief Executive

Click to download a copy of the Ashdown Forest Vision & Management Strategy.

Public Talks

Four public talks by James Adler have been arranged in the local area.

They are an opportunity to learn about the management of the Forest and hear about future fund-raising opportunities, including the potential for car-parking charges. The event in Crowborough is on Wednesday 3rd November at 7.30pm.

The series of dates are:

  • Monday 25th October at 7.30pm at Fairwarp Village Hall
  • Thursday 28th October at 7.30pm at Nutley Village Hall
  • Monday 1st November at 7.45pm at Peter Griffits Hall in Forest Row
  • Wednesday 3rd November at 7.30pm at Crowborough Community Centre

Additional dates added:



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  1. Ashdown Forest is nature at its best but we must stop it being used as a cut through for commercial vehicles and speed freeks. The cattle grids are designed for light vehicles, not heavy goods vehicles. Earth moving tipper trucks can now be seen on a daily basis. This is a very important nature reserve not another path for the vast increase of traffic.

    • I agree totally with Mr Place. And with COP26 around the corner, I find it incredible that Wealden District Council planners have just agreed a further two substantial houses outside the planning boundary and within the Ashdown Forest, paying scant regard to public objection and stewardship of green and rare habitat. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever!

  2. I remember there being a 30ton weight limlt on the forest cut through, if this is still in place the large tippers are using the road illegally, but like so many things it will probably not be enforced

  3. Tighter controls on dogs attacking joggers and wildlife. Too many dog owners treat the shared area as a dedicated dog park, leaving dog mess and making the natural beauty dangerous. Many dog owners blame the jogger even when the rules regarding dogs are very clear.

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