FLORA & FAUNA

Somewhat surprisingly, the landscape of the Ashdown Forest is in fact two thirds heathland, as opposed to forest. Heather, gorse and bracken are common species that you will see in low lying heathland areas. In forested areas you will find oak trees, hazel and chestnut coppice, and silver birch trees. Dotted across the Ashdown Forest are clumps of Scots Pine trees which are characteristic of ‘Pooh Country’. 

Ashdown Forest with Scots Pines and Gorse Bushes
View of the Ashdown Forest
Bracken in the Autumn
Looking up at Scots Pine Trees
Gorse on the Ashdown Forest
Gorse in Flower in the Spring
Lightning Struck Tree

The Ashdown Forest is home to some rare species of birds such as the European Nightjar and the Dartford Warbler and because of this it is a Special Protection Area. Alongside birds, there are rare butterflies such as Silver-Studded Blue and Purple Emperor butterflies. Deer are also a large feature of the the forest, in particular Roe Deer and Fallow Deer, which have been prevalent since the Medieval period as it was a popular hunting ground. Grazing animals such as sheep, cattle and ponies also reside on the forest, grazing on the vegetation which helps to maintain the Ashdown Forest’s heathland landscape.

NOTABLE SPECIES

Silver Studded Blue Butterfly (Plebejus argus) 

  • A protected species of butterfly which inhabits heathland areas. The females are brown in colour, but the males are a silvery blue colour with a dark border.
  • A small butterfly, their wing span is around 29-31mm
Silver studded blue butterfly
A male Silver Studded Blue
Purple Emperor Butterfly
A male Purple Emperor

Purple Emperor (Apatura iris)

  • A rare species of butterfly which is known to be found across Sussex. 
  • With a large wingspan of 75 to 85 mm, it is amongst the biggest of butterflies.
  • The females are brown with white spots, meanwhile the males have a beautiful purple sheen.

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)

  • Native to the UK, Roe Deer are a smaller species of deer which leave small hoof prints (slots) about 4cm long in muddy ground. Look out for hoof prints on the forest 
  • In the summer, their coats are bright rusty red, while in winter, their coats turn a slate grey colour.
Stag Roe deer

Look out for some of these notable species when you are on your adventures... Consider taking some binoculars with you and keep your eyes peeled!

If you would like to learn more about the flora and fauna of the Ashdown Forest, we would suggest having a listen to the Ashdown Forest Podcast. Hosted by audio producer, Eka Morgan, and wildlife guide, Tom Forward, this is a fascinating insight into the wildlife, conservation and bio-diversity of the Ashdown Forest…