Dorset Countryside currently manages 12 sites across North Dorset in partnership with the North Dorset District Council.
These sites cover a wide range of habitats from water meadows to chalk downland. Most are within easy reach of a town or village, and are enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike. The sites make an important contribution to the diversity of North Dorset's wildlife and support a number of important species. Each season brings its own interest and there is something new to see whatever time of year you visit.
If you would like to find out more about the sites that Dorset Countryside manages in North Dorset download the leaflet on the right. It includes ideas of how to get around in a sustainable way to help protect this hidden part of Dorset.
Around 30% of the North Dorset area is designated under two areas of outstanding natural beauty. The council takes the view that the conservation of the natural beauty of the area can be best achieved through an appreciation of the distinctive character of different parts of the area. This arises from the geology, landform, drainage, soils and vegetation and the activities of man over the centuries.
A wide range of habitats of nature conservation interest can be found in North Dorset, including a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and National Nature Reserves (NNRs). There are also many areas within the district which, though not statutorily designated, have been identified for their substantive nature conservation value. Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCIs) and Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are important habitats and will be protected from development which would have an adverse impact upon their nature conservation value.
The council supports the Dorset Biodiversity Action Plan. The Countryside Ranger Service maintains and enhances the District Council-owned countryside sites promoting biodiversity and access. It is hoped to achieve Local Nature Reserve status for some Council-owned and privately-owned sites. The Rangers also promote wildlife issues through events, publications and their web site.
Castle Hill, Shaftesbury
A site diverse in wildlife, with lovely views across the surrounding countryside and links with the history of Shaftesbury.
Chantry Fields, Gillingham
A small riverside retreat along the River Stour.
A secluded site with wonderful views across the surrounding countryside; a favourite with walkers and summer picnickers.
Langton Meadows, Blandford
One of Blandford's riverside sites adjacent to Stour Meadows.
A patch of countryside right on Blandford's doorstep with areas of woodland and species-rich chalk grassland.
A hilltop picnic site, within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, perfect for walkers, riders and cyclists.
Preetz Way, Blandford
An important area of green open space for local amenity.
Riverside Meadows, Sturminster Newton
A riverside reserve used regularly by anglers and walkers.
A valuable local green space, with riverside benches for visitors who wish to stop and appreciate this tranquil site.
Stour Meadows, Blandford
An important site for recreation along the River Stour in Blandford, with good links into the town centre.
An important site containing one of Dorset's largest fragments of chalk heath.