Heathlands are important places for wildlife and open spaces for people. Heathlands grow in a few areas around the UK and Europe, including Dorset.
Our heaths are home to very rare specialist animals and plants, including some of our most endangered species.
Dorset's heathlands once covered over 50,000 hectares, stretching from the Avon Valley in the east to Dorchester in the west. Changes in agricultural practice, conifer planting, scrub encroachment, urban expansion and road building have all contributed to a reduction in area. Dorset's fragmented heaths total approximately 7,000 hectares today.
View a map of the Dorset Heathlands
- Heath visits
Heathlands are an important resource that all schools and groups should be a part of. Young people need an understanding the local area where they are living so they can learn to appreciate what they have and enjoy the area responsibly.
A number of the heaths within the Urban Heaths Partnership have a group of interested people, usually local residents, who look after the heath. Like each of the heathland sites, every group is different.
- Heathland Code
Heathlands are internationally important because of the rare wildlife that lives there. Many heathlands are registered as open access land giving everyone a right to access them on foot. Visitors are asked to be responsible and follow the Heathland Code.
Before deciding what to do on land or sea, you may want to check the local weather conditions.
Attractions and activities
Dorset boasts breathtaking countryside, amazing attractions and a coastline that has received World Heritage status.
Dog walking in Dorset
Find out about walking dogs in the countryside and on beaches.
About the Dorset Heaths
Dorset's heaths are part of the Dorset Heathlands Special Protection Area (SPA), the Dorset Heaths Special Area of Conservation (SAC) with some parts forming the Dorset Heaths RAMSAR site.
Urban Heaths Partnership
The Urban Heaths Partnership Core Team supports its partners to maintain, protect and enhance the internationally important heathland sites of Dorset by providing Education, Wardening and Monitoring.
Urban Heaths Partnership Wardens regularly patrol the heaths and attend local events as a point of contact with the public.
Heathlands are an important educational resource available to be utilised by schools and groups. Heathland visits with the Urban Heath Partnership (UHP) team encourage an understanding of the history and ecology of the local area and an appreciation of the importance of heathlands.
- Monitoring the Dorset heaths
The Urban Heaths Partnership (UHP) has a monitoring strategy prepared by Footprint Ecology. It aims to identify heaths at risk from urban pressure, target mitigation work, establish baseline data for visitor use and opinions on heathlands as well as provide information to allow continuous assessment of the Urban Heaths Partnership Project.
Community and events
Heathlands are valuable green open spaces for local communities. Local communities can help protect their heathland sites by using them responsibly and by getting involved.
- News and resources
Free newsletters, leaflets, posters, the Heathland Code and other resources to help you learn more about how to protect the heathlands.
A number of projects relating to the Dorset Heaths have been or are currently running.
- Urban Heaths Partnership events
The Urban Heaths Partnership (UHP) team are running free activities for all ages at venues near you this spring and summer.
- Heaths management
Tackling the problems and pressures on heathland sites in Dorset.
Name: Urban Heaths Partnership - Project Office
Tel: 01202 642 787
Full details for Urban Heaths Partnership - Project Office