This report summarises work to date on an ongoing project in the South East of England which has been updating the Ancient Woodland Inventory. The project produces a complete revision of the inventory, but also for the first time, includes woods under two hectares.
Areas where the survey has been completed include Wealden district, Hastings borough, and Lewes and Rother districts in East Sussex, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, and Tonbridge and Malling boroughs in Kent, Brighton and Hove, and the counties of West Sussex and Surrey.
The revision to the inventory is ongoing in Canterbury, Maidstone and Sevenoaks districts in Kent; the Chilterns AONB and surrounding districts, Eastbourne borough in East Sussex, and in Hampshire (focussing on the South Downs National Park area).
The survey in the South East has provided a detailed and thorough revision of the Ancient Woodland Inventory, and has secured considerable external funding and support to achieve its aims. The overall success of the project has been its wide partnership engagement, and the high degree of accuracy with which it has identified and mapped ancient woodlands. The survey’s thorough methodology, with the use of both desk-based and field work, and digital mapping technology, means that the project represents the most complete and detailed update of the inventory yet undertaken at the regional scale.
The revised inventory has also enabled a better assessment of the extent and quality of the ancient woodland resource to be made, and has ensured that planning decisions affecting this habitat can be made on the basis of a robust evidence base. The survey continues in the South East, with the overall aim of extending the work into the remaining areas of Hampshire, Kent, and other parts of the region. In the rest of the country, projects of this nature and at this standard would be welcomed by Natural England, especially where smaller areas of woodland make an important contribution to the landscape.