Cranborne Chase and North Dorset Forest Plans

Cranborne Chase and North Dorset Forest Plans


The group of woodlands are scattered across the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Dorset and Wiltshire from North of Sixpenny Handley to the North-West of Wilton Village. The total area covered is 1882 hectares. The woods are all managed by the Forestry Commission under either freehold or leasehold arrangements dependant on the area in question.

Due to the position of the woodlands near local towns and villages they are popular for public recreation. Regularly used for informal recreation activities including dog walking, horse riding and cycling the woods enjoy strong visitor numbers. The most popular sites are those close to Wilton and Salisbury, in particular Hare Warren.

Many of the woodlands include sites of Ancient Woodland which forms a main conservation point for the area. In addition there are 11 Scheduled Ancient Monuments within Cranborne Chase and North Dorset Woodlands.


The objectives of management here are to:

• Utilise the Forest Enterprise Ancient Woodland survey to advance the development of native woodland in the Cranborne Chase and North Dorset woodlands.

• Develop woodlands that provide opportunities for informal and formal public recreation and education, especially in woodland areas adjacent to village settlements.

• Provide a regular and diverse supply of quality timber to support local employment and local timber processing industries.

• Protect all Scheduled Ancient Monuments and any other features of woodland and cultural heritage.

• Achieve an appropriate balance of objectives through consultation with local communities and representatives of organisations involved with nature conservation, cultural heritage, public access and recreation and the timber/woodland products industry.

What we’ll do

Approval was granted for the operations to run from July 2016 to July 2026. During this period the aim was to fell 52.2 hectares of Conifers and restock 28.6 hectares of Broadleaves. While 0.7 hectares of open space was created and 9.6 hectares of Downland used for the purposes of habitat restoration.

The composition of the wood will also change from 11% semi-natural woodland, 10% reasserted semi-natural woodland (50-80% Site Native Trees), 16% plantation (20-50% Site Native Trees), 59% plantation (less than 20% Site Native Trees) and 4% open habitats in 2004 to 22% semi-natural woodland, 9% reasserted semi-natural woodland (50-80% Site Native Trees), 33% plantation (20-50% Site Native Trees), 26% plantation (less than 20% Site Native Trees) and 10% open habitats in 2024.