Why is Ashridge Estate under threat?
With more than 30,000 new dwellings planned in the local area over the next 10 years, Ashridge Estate could see upwards of an additional 200,000 visitors each year, placing unprecedented pressure on the estate’s delicate habitats and wildlife.
Monument Drive is where most people start and end their visit to Ashridge. The majority of people come to this area as it is where the only visitor facilities are located, as well as most of the hard-standing and informal grass verge car parking.
However, this area is at the heart of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC), with Monument Drive and the walking routes around it being some of the most vulnerable and highly designated parts of the estate.
The concentration of car parking and visitors in this one area is causing severe damage to the landscape. The volume of feet, tyres, paws and hooves on the same ground is causing the ancient soil and the special biodiversity within it to become worn away.
Wildflowers and special plants are getting trampled and cannot continue to grow year after year. Birds, insects, butterflies, mammals and other wildlife are losing the vital habitats they need to survive.
The current hard-standing car parks are not big enough to carry the weight of visitors who arrive by car, forcing people to park on the badly eroded grass verges along Monument Drive. This is having a detrimental impact on the soil, ancient trees and special habitats in this part of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
An ecological report published by Dacorum Borough Council in 2022 showed that damage was widespread across the estate but also concentrated in a number of areas. Here are some examples: