Photo by Clare Buckerfield

Landscape & Seascape Character

An understanding of landscape and seascape character underpins the approach to planning and management within the Dorset AONB, ensuring that all decisions affecting the designation conserve and enhance the special qualities of its outstanding landscapes and seascapes, now and for the future.

Landscape and seascape character assessments have been completed for Dorset, these documents provide a framework to guide planning and management decisions based on an understanding of:

  • The qualities and features that make the landscape/seascape special
  • How these features combine in different ways in different places to give each area its own unique character
  • The strength and condition of these features and how they are changing

The map below illustrates the landscape character areas across Dorset, and the seascape character areas that extend as far as the international boundary with France.
LSCA Map-573

Dorset Coast Seascape Character Assessment

The seascape character areas adjoining the AONB coastline are identified and described within "The Dorset Coast Landscape & Seascape Character Assessment" published in September 2010 and prepared by LDA Design to inform the C-Scope Project (Combining Sea and Coastal Planning in Europe). More information about this project, and the full version of the seascape character assessment, is available to download at

The character and quality of the land and sea interface is an important aspect of the AONB, however the coastline is constantly changing, subject to powerful coastal and hydrological processes. The Dorset Coast Landscape and Seascape Assessment is a valuable tool, promoting an integrated approach to decision making in this transitional area. The assessment reflects the terrestrial landscape character types identified in Conserving Character, plus it identifies 11 seascape character types covering the coastline and marine areas. Click on the maps below to see larger versions of the marine and coastal areas maps.

DCLSA Front Cover-232  SCA-map-573

AONB coast types west-573  AONB coast types east-573

It is important to identify and recognise the landscape and seascape character types/areas that lie outside the AONB boundary as they contribute to the setting of the AONB.

Dorset AONB Landscape Character Assessment

The landscape character areas within the AONB are identified and described within “Conserving Character Landscape Character Assessment & Management Guidance for the Dorset AONB," produced by the AONB team and published in 2008.

The Dorset AONB landscape character assessment identifies 14 landscape types, such as open chalk downland, clay vales, limestone hills and rolling wooded pasture. These landscape types share common combinations of geology, topography, vegetation and human influence but are not specific to a particular location. The landscape character assessment breaks these landscape types into individual and unique geographical areas called landscape character areas, such as the Upper Piddle Valley or Marshwood Vale. The assessment identifies 34 landscape character areas in the AONB. Click on the map below to see a larger version.

CCLCA front cover 573 LCA-map-573

Click on the links below to view the Dorset AONB Landscape Character Assessment "Conserving Character"

1.Front & back cover with contents
2. Introduction
3. Overview of approach
4. Landscape types & character areas of the Dorset AONB
5. Open Chalk Downland
Chaldon Downs

South Dorset Downs
Dorchester Downs

6. Chalk Ridge/Escarpment

Purbeck Ridge
North Dorset Escarpment
South Dorset Escarpment
West Dorset Escarpment

7. Chalk Valley & Downland
Upper North Winterborne Valley

Upper Milborne Valley
Upper Piddle Valley
Cerne & Sydling Valley
Upper Frome Valley

8. Clay Valley

Corfe Valley
Kimmeridge Coast
Bride Valley

9. Lowland Heath
South Purbeck Heaths
10. Valley Pasture

Frome Valley Pasture
Stour Valley Pasture

11. Limestone Plateau
Purbeck Plateau
12. Ridge & Vale

South Dorset Ridge & Vale
Osmington Ridge & Vale

13. Rolling Wooded Pasture

Lulworth Wooded Pasture
Rempstone Wooded Pasture

14. Coastal Grassland

Bexington Coast

15. Clay Vale
Marshwood Vale

Halstock Vale

16. Wooded Hills

Axe Valley Hills
Wootton Hills
Chideock Hills
Powerstock Hills
Powerstock Woods

17. Limestone Hills

Melbury Hills

18. Undulating River Valley
Brit Valley

Axe Valley

19. Appendix

Facebook logo square     twitter-transparent