The Dorset landscape is unique in terms of its landscape character, variety and quality. This diversity is a product of natural, physical factors such as geology, soils and climate. Overlaying this physical framework has been the long history of mans’ activities which have all shaped the landscape we see today.

The diversity ranges from the grandeur and geological importance of its 87 mile coastline to the biodiversity value expressed through rare flora and fauna and internationally important habitat types. 

This importance is also evidenced by an array of statistics with 11 National Nature Reserves, 141 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), over 1,254 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCIs) and 23 sites recognised to be of international or European importance (SACs, SPAs and RAMSAR sites). There are also 63 Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) and 45 Local Nature Reserves (LNRs).

These pages describe the physical and human factors which have influenced landscape evolution as well as outlining information on landscape designations and how landscape diversity has been described and mapped in updated Landscape Character Assessments.

Landscape Character Assessment Map

View a map of all the Landscape Character Areas in Dorset, or view a list

The Historic Landscape

Learn about the historic environment of each landscape character type