Today there are about 8500 hectares of heathland in Dorset.

The majority of Dorset heaths are designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and above such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). These nature conservation protection classifications are to protect these important places. SPAs and SACs are collectively known as Natura 2000 (N2000) sites which form a European wide network of nature conservation sites.

Protecting and managing these sites are a shared responsibility with landowners, managers, Natural England and site users.

Dorset Heaths Partnership

The Dorset Heaths Partnership is made up of 10 organisations working together to protect and enhance the Dorset heathlands:

  • Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council
  • Dorset Council
  • Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Dorset Police
  • Dorset Wildlife Trust
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust
  • Natural England
  • National Trust
  • Forestry England
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Partnership's aim is to alleviate urban pressures on the Dorset heaths brought about by new residential development in the area.

This is achieved with a combination of wardening, an inclusive education programme, access management and fire risk assessment and heath management.

There are several strands of monitoring to establish baseline data and to gauge success of work and projects.