Heathland in Poole

Poole has more than 500 hectares of heathland, the equivalent of more than 700 Wembley-sized football pitches.

The heath, first created by farmers clearing land for grazing and crops, are now home to a rich tapestry of plants and wildlife including the rare smooth snake, sand lizard and Dartford warbler.

For current information on Poole's Heathland, its wildlife, management and practical volunteer tasks, as well as information by our partners, visit the Poole Heathland's Facebook page. Please read Dorset's Purple Patch giving the history of Dorset Heaths through to the present day.

Main heath areas in Poole

  • Bourne Valley - including Talbot Heath
  • Broadstone Heath
  • Ham Common
  • Upton Heath
  • Canford Heath

Canford Heath is one of the largest remaining heaths in Dorset. It covers 850 acres of land (equivalent to 530 Wembley-sized football pitches). Look out for views across to Corfe Castle and the Purbecks. For more information such mas history, access points and walks, you can download the Canford Heath information and map.

The rare wildlife and habitat of Canford Heath has been formally recognised. It is:

Its status allows for management and protection of it into the future.

Access to the heathland

The heathland paths can be challenging with steep gradients in places. However, some routes and access points are suitable for mobility vehicles.

For Canford Heath, please refer to the Canford Heath map for more information. Please note RADAR locks are used on the gates.

Dogs, bikes and horses

To minimise disturbance to wildlife or livestock, especially ground nesting birds, please stay on the paths at all times. Keep dogs under close control and remember to pick up for your dog to ensure the heathland is a pleasant place for everyone to enjoy.

Urban Heaths Partnership

The partnership was established to respond to pressures of urban heaths in South East Dorset.  It focuses on reducing arson and motorcycle use on the heath, as well as educating the public on the importance of heath sites.

The partnership is made up of 14 organisations including: the local Councils, Police, Dorset Fire and Rescue and wildlife organisations.

The partnership can be contacted on 01202 642785 or you can e-mail urbanheath@dorsetcc.gov.uk.

Borough of Poole winter heathland management

To fulfil our legal obligations to manage the Borough of Poole’s internationally important heathlands, we organise and oversee works across these sites in addition to routine maintenance. This mainly involves carrying out tree and scrub removal during the Autumn/Winter season.

If this management is not undertaken the continual spread of trees and scrub will affect many of the plants and wildlife which need the relatively treeless landscape to survive.  

We have done much work over the last decade to halt the decline and revert the loss of this special habitat. We have undertaken much of this alongside other organisations managing other heaths in South East Dorset, often in partnership when applying for different funding streams as in the case of Higher Level Stewardship.

This positive management will help to save and protect the remainder of the heaths and their rare flora and fauna. The works are carried out with the agreement of Natural England and largely funded by Higher Level Stewardship.

The largest scale works occur on Canford Heath SSSI with significant works also undertaken on Ham common SSSI & Bourne Valley SSSI. Additional routine small scale work will also be undertaken on the remainder of the heaths within the Borough of Poole's management.

Heathland protection

To help protect our heathland, please monitor and report any incident, problems or suspicious behaviour to us on 01202 265265, in the event of an emergency such as a fire, call 999. Never take risks or put yourself in danger.

Page last updated: 29 January 2019
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