Ashdown Forest today covers an area of approximately 10 square miles (2,396 hectares) although the original ancient pale enclosed an area of 5,648 hectares. It is one of the largest area of lowland heath in the South-East and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its unique ecology.
Despite its name, woodland makes up less than 40% of the total area of Ashdown Forest and it is doubtful whether that figure was ever much higher.
Ashdown Forest's ecological importance as a unique area of lowland heathland has been recognised by its designation by the UK government as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its heathland habitats. It is part of the European Natura 2000 network as it hosts some of Europe's most threatened species and habitats.
Ashdown Forest is famous as the setting for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A. A. Milne, who lived on the northern edge of the forest and took his son, Christopher Robin, walking there. The artist EH Shepard drew on the landscapes of Ashdown Forest as inspiration for many of the illustrations he provided for the Pooh books.