he East Dorset Woodlands span 2695 hectares in total and lie to the West of the River Avon Valley. The area is composed of six woodland areas: Ringwood North and Somerley, Ashley Heath, West Moors, Hurn and Ramsdown, Cannon Hill, Uddens and Whitesheet and Horton Wood. The woods encompass both freehold woodland and also leasehold woods, all of which are being managed by the Forestry Commission. Many of the woods were established on former heathland sites, though some were actually formed on ancient woodland sites. The woods have their origins in the post-war planting and afforestation carried out to boost Britain’s timber supplies.
The woods are bounded by villages and towns and so provide an important source of green space for the local residents. The woods are popular with dog walkers, hikers and cyclists. Various bridleways exist for the use of horse riders and provision for cyclists includes not only way-marked trails but also the Watchmoor Bike Park which consists of a series of structures and obstacles for more advanced cyclists.
Parts of six SSSIs fall within the area of the East Dorset Woodlands, such as the Ebblake Bog of which 85% falls within the woodlands. The woodlands also contain 24 Scheduled Monuments including Bronze Age barrows (funerary monuments).
The objectives of management here are to:
• Develop woodlands that provide opportunities for informal and formal public recreation, especially in areas on the urban fringe while diverting pressure away from more sensitive habitats.
• Develop woodlands that are more attractive and which are sympathetic to their landscape context.
• Sustain and protect existing habitats of nature conservation interest.
• Provide a regular supply of quality timber to support local employment and local timber processing industries.
• Protect archaeological sites and cultural features.
• Achieve an appropriate balance of objectives through consultation with local communities and representatives of organisations involved with the nature conservation, public recreation and timber industry.
Approval has been granted for the operations to run from September 2009 to August 2019. During this time 144.1 hectares of Conifers, 1.5 hectares of Broadleaves and 0.9 hectares of mixed species will be felled as well as 0.4 hectares of Heathland or Mire. 108.9 hectares of Conifers will be restocked, 27.5 hectares of Conifers will be restored, 1.6 hectares of Broadleaves will be restored. 7 hectares of Heathland or Mire will be created as well as 1.9 hectares of Wooded Heath.