Orlestone and Dene Park forest plan

Orlestone and Dene Park forest plan

About the forest

Orlestone Forest is approximately six miles south-west of Ashford, Kent. Dene Park is almost 33 miles north-west of Orlestone and is located three miles north of Tonbridge.

The forest plan area totals 511 hectares, which includes Orlestone Forest covering 412.9 hectares and Dene Park covering 98.4 hectares. Orlestone can be divided into four distinct parts: Haberdashers Wood, Twelve Acre Wood, Penfold Wood and Orlestone itself.

Orlestone is held under freehold with 53 hectares dedicated under CROW including Fifty Acre wood and Penfold wood. The remaining 316ha is constrained access but it has de facto public access due to nation-wide policy. Dene Park is held under freehold with the whole area open access land dedicated under CROW. 

Both Orlestone and Dene Park are dominated by broadleaves with integrated conifer components and in some areas pure conifer stands. A good open ride network at Orlestone provides links to important conservation features throughout the forest taking advantage of surrounding open pastureland to benefit species listed in the SSSI documentation. Coppice areas provide habitat for nightjar and nightingale and the large quantity of ponds identified provide good habitats for water flora and fauna and amenity value for site visitors. Dene Park is less open and the ride network less pronounced.

Practically all of Orlestone and Dene Park is ancient woodland. This is comprised of both ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW) totalling 40 hectares and plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) totalling 416 hectares. The PAWS area is a mixture of coniferous and broadleaf woodland. The long-term objective of the plan is to reduce the presence of conifers to no more than 15% of the overall site by 2050 and 10% in the SSSI.

Objectives of the forest plan

For wildlife:

  • increase the proportion of native deciduous species at Orlestone to at least 80% and the semi-naturalness of the property as a whole.
  • ensure all SSSI components remain in favourable condition.
  • expand and improve the freshwater habitats in Orlestone.
  • remove the invasive rhododendron from the understorey at Dene Park.

For people:

  • facilitate sustainable levels of public use within the forest by maintaining current recreational facilities such as the car park, trails and signage whilst continuing to prevent detrimental social behaviours that affect the site’s value.

For climate:

  • improve the resilience of our forests by increasing species diversity through restock programmes and mixed silvicultural practices, to protect future timber supplies and biomass.

Our sustainable approach:

  • maintain the land within our stewardship under FSC®/PEFC certification by meeting standards detailed in the latest edition of UKWAS.

What we’ll do

The Orlestone and Dene Park plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking for the next 20 years, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2033.

For further information regarding species composition and the future management of these woodlands, please refer to the full plan below.