Significant areas of the western end of AONB form the intimate wooded hills landscape type, with several clusters of conical shaped hills formed around the Marshwood Vale.
Typically, woodland is found on the valley sides with a network of dense hedgerows, winding lanes and small clustered settlements dotted throughout the pastoral landscape. The market and coastal towns in and around the area support a long tradition of artistic interpretation of the landscape and local cultural traditions.
- Policy driven farming changes over the last seventy years, resulting in concentration of stock levels, has limited the availability of livestock to graze land of low agricultural value such as chalk grassland. In places, this has resulted in low grazing pressure and increased scrub encroachment on the steeper slopes.
- In the past some hedgerows have been lost either through field enlargement or through lack of management.
- Some rough pasture and wet meadows on the valley floor have been lost from conversion to larger fields of arable use.
- The planting of game coverts on the valley sides has been one of the most significant changes in the past. Although this reinforces the sense of enclosure, it can detract from the appearance of semi-natural features such as broadleaved woodlands.
- Agriculture is becoming more market driven with intensification of production and farm diversification. This may result in short term changes in agricultural patterns in the landscape.
- Modern residential and tourist developments in more open locations, particularly toward the coast, threatens to weaken the historic pattern of development. There is also demand for the conversion of traditional farm buildings into holiday uses toward the coast.
- Future small-scale development pressures on the edges of villages may erode rural character.
- Some orchards have suffered from a lack of management due to wider economic forces.
- There is also likely to be further pressure for new built development on the fringes of larger settlements, along the A35 as well as redevelopment of agricultural buildings to residential, amenity or industrial use.
- Assarts being destroyed through growth in pony paddocks.
- Coppice management is economically unviable in many woodlands.