The South Downs Phase II covers Marden Block, Charlton Forest, Selhurst Park, Eartham Wood and Houghton Forest, a total area of 2,106 hectares. It is held by the Forestry Commission under a mix of freehold and leasehold management. The woods range from 75m above sea level in altitude to around 220metres at the top end of Charlton Forest and Eartham Wood.
The woods possess sixteen Scheduled Ancient Monuments including Stane Street, a Roman road. A Significant section of the woods are designated as being on the Ancient Woodland Inventory, while Kingly Vale and Marden Block include areas designated as being Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The woods are popular with the local communities and attract dog walkers, hikers, cyclists, runners and horse riders. Only Marden is dedicated for open access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, but Charlton and Selhurst both contain public rights of way, served by bridleways and footpaths. The recreation facilities and access to a carpark vary between the sites, only Drovers Wood possessing none due to its small size and lack of access.
The objectives of management here are to:
• Demonstrate sustainable use of woodlands and manage them in accordance with the UK Forest Standard (UKFS), the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000/1).
• Support and enhance biological diversity.
• Protect and enhance special sites for conservation.
• Encourage people to appreciate and enjoy the woodlands in a sustainable way.
• Protect and conserve archaeological interest in the woodlands.
• Ensure that forestry operations take place at a scale and frequency that is in keeping with the surrounding landscape.
• Provide income from the marketing of timber products and the provision of recreation facilities.
• Provide further opportunity for partnership working.
Approval has been granted for the operations to run from July 2013 to June 2023. During this time no clear felling will take place, instead 2045.4 hectares will be managed under a Low Impact Silvicultural System (LISS), 3.4 hectares will be managed under a Coppice System and 40.4 hectares of permanent open space will continue to be managed.
The chart below shows the current structure of the wood.