Purbeck Forest is comprised of five areas of woodland and covers 2973 hectares: Wareham & Gore Heath (1541ha), Purbeck (563ha), Hethfelton (157ha), Affpuddle & Moreton (411ha) and Puddletown (301ha). Lying within Dorset the woods are dominated by Conifer trees, though there is also a significant amount of heathland and small numbers of Broadleaf trees.
The woods are managed by the Forestry Commission and vary from Freehold to Leasehold in status. As a result the public activities and amenities also vary and range from informal dog walking in wooded areas to official trails, bridleways and car parks. Several of the sites are particularly popular and enjoy a high level of public footfall.
Certain areas of the woods are classed as SSSI or designated Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) or National Nature Reserve (NNR). Within Purbeck Forest are 35 Scheduled Monuments and 1 Unscheduled Monument which include funerary monuments such as Bronze Age bell barrows, an Iron Age Hillfort and a linear earthwork used for china clay production.
The objectives of management here are to:
• Maintain and develop the woodland in ways sympathetic to the landscape context.
• Sustain and protect existing habitats of nature conservation interest.
• To protect all ancient monuments and features of woodland and cultural heritage.
• To develop woodlands that provide opportunities for informal and formal public recreation.
• To 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.
• To provide a regular supply of quality timber to support the local timber industry.
Approval has been granted for the operations to run from August 2013 to July 2023. During that time 449.9 hectares of Conifers will be felled, 247.4 hectares will be restocked with Conifers, 7.8 hectares will be restocked with Broadleaves and 194.7 hectares of heathland or mire will be created for the purposes of habitat restoration.
The chart below shows the current structure of the whole wood, the target structure for 10 years time and the target structure for 20 years time.