Chief Executive Officer

James Adler

James joined the Forest in January 2021. James has the overall responsibility for the direction, protection, and conservation of Ashdown Forest. He leads the team who deliver the Forest’s management. He works closely with the Conservators to set the strategic direction for the Forest. James has spent 18 years in nature conservation with The Wildlife Trusts. He continues to work nationally advising Defra on farming, conservation and grant funding.

Countryside Manager

To be appointed


Business Services Manager

Kirsty Dirs

Kirsty joined the Forest in July 2015. Kirsty manages the organisations administrative and business functions and provides company secretariat services to the Board. She handles property licences, Bye-law infringements and oversees estate matters, including planning applications affecting Ashdown Forest.


Senior Rangers

Chris Sutton

Chris has a National Diploma in Countryside Recreation from Merrist Wood Agricultural College and joined us in 1988. He has responsibilities for Health and Safety, Forest Centre maintenance and management. He liaises with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for forest fire control and training.

Mike Payne

Mike Payne studied at Brinsbury College for three years and had qualifications on Countryside Management at both National and 1st Diploma levels. Mike has been on the Forest since 2003. Mike is super with a chainsaw and a tractor and has many other skills learned as a Countryside Worker.

Finance Manager

To be appointed



Duncan Thatcher

Duncan Thatcher is passionate about heathland conservation.  He started out as a volunteer at nearby Chailey Common before working for the Wildlife Trusts at Greenham and Crookham Commons in West Berkshire. From there he became a heathland warden for Natural England on the Thames Basin Heaths Project.  

Ashley Payne

Ashley joined the team in early 2014 as a Countryside Worker. Prior to this Ashley completed a foundation degree in Countryside Management at Plumpton College and worked as a volunteer for eight years with a variety of conservation organisations during his spare time.

Stakeholder Consultation Project Manager

Mark Infield


Specialist Rangers


Dan Graeme

Dan joined the grazing team in July 2016 after volunteering for them since 2009. He was brought up on a local dairy farm and has always loved working with livestock. He has three collies to help him and a terrier aptly named Bracken.

Rich Allum

Rich Allum joined the Forest in 2005. He obtained a degree in Ecology & Conservation from the University of Sussex before becoming a Ranger for East Sussex County Council and Bracknell Forest Borough Council. Before joining us, Rich spent five years as Heathland Project Officer in the High Weald AONB.

Anna Bogg

Exmoor Pony/Grazing Contractor

Communications & Public Engagement

Katherine Meade

Katherine joined the Forest in April 2018. She manages the Visitor Centre, riding permits, exhibitions, hiring the education barn, the volunteers, advertising, Forest events, the website, commercial dog walkers, dog training, meat sales, collating management information, Forest rent and rates.

Specialist Ranger


Glenn Poland

Glen joined the Ashdown Forest in September 2016. Glen was brought up from a young age managing wild deer. He achieved a National Diploma in game and countryside management at Plumpton College, specialising in deer management. After leaving college in 2010, Glen continued to manage deer on large estates across the south east of England.

Education Team

Lisa Stevens

Rachel Bennington






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