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.
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.
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:
- Thursday 11th November at 7.30pm online via Zoom (click to register)
- Monday 29th November at 7.30pm at Uckfield Civic Centre