Ashdown Forest is one of England’s surviving ancient wonders of landscape and environment, and has special international protection because of its wildlife.


Two thirds of the 6500 acres that make up the Forest are heathland, which provides a wonderful habitat for birds such as the Nightjar which comes all the way from Africa to breed here, and the resident Dartford warbler.


The Forest is also home to a wide variety of beautiful butterflies, rare insects and spiders.


You’ll see ancient breeds of sheep, cattle and ponies openly grazing, as they have done for centuries. And across the heathland there are foxes, rabbits, stoats, weasels, shrews, bats and badgers.


Ashdown Forest is a living time capsule of our nation. The internationally important heathland, alongside lush green footpaths, and valley mire, offer a journey through generations of human activity.


At the heart of the ecosystem is grazing by wild and domestic animals, which created the original landscape. This process intensified in medieval times with the Forest’s enclosure for hunting, and resulted in a large open area with pine, birch and oak woodland.


To help us care for this special place, please follow the Ashdown Forest code.


Climate change and biodiversity loss mean Ashdown Forest has a critical role to play in protecting rare habitats for the range of species that depend on them. We want to restore heathland, become sustainable, and ensure the future survival of this precious resource.

We believe that the best is yet to come, and with your help, future generations will enjoy Ashdown Forest as we do today.

Statutory Designations

The wildlife and landscape of Ashdown Forest enjoys national and international legal protection. It lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.


The Forest is also classified as a Special Protection Area for wild birds, and a Special Area of Conservation for the heathland habitat. We are working to achieve the added honour of National Nature Reserve status.


Do you have some free time available? Would you like to join our team of friendly volunteers working to preserve and protect Ashdown Forest?


We have more than 100 people who carry out a variety of tasks to help the management of the landscape, and look after the many visitors to the Forest Centre.


Volunteers receive full training where required, travel expenses, and really make a difference to our work. We’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in joining our mission.