Barton Meadows nature reserve

Barton Meadows nature reserve

Find out more about the creation of Winchester's newest nature reserve

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has been appointed to establish and manage a new nature reserve in Winchester.

Barton Meadows nature reserve was conceived during the planning process to create new habitat for wildlife displaced by the development on Barton Farm, as well as provide new public access for quiet recreation for local people. The reserve will include two large wildflower meadows, and a new permissive 2.75 km circular path around the perimeter of the site. The path will double the access currently available and will offer great views across the newly-enhanced landscape.

Since autumn 2017 we've been reverting the existing farmland to wildflower grassland. So far we have re-seeded 28 hectares of the site with traditional wildflowers like birdsfoot trefoil, meadow buttercup and greater knapweed.

We hope to recreate the kind of beautiful wildlife-rich meadow habitat that would have once been widespread in the Winchester area. As a result we expect to see species like pollinating butterflies and bees, and farmland birds such as skylark, yellowhammer and linnet, all flourish on the site.

Goldfinch © Alan Price Marbled white butterfly © Mark Heighes Yellowhammer © Amy Lewis

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the site be managed?

The Wildlife Trust formally started managing the land in March 2017. The agreed plans for the site are to return the existing arable fields to chalk grassland meadows, and will be one of the biggest habitat creation schemes of this type in the local area.

The centre of the reserve will be made up of two large compartments which will be grazed by livestock, re-creating traditional wildlife-friendly ways of managing land. Light grazing by cattle is a widely-used management practice for maintaining wildflower meadow habitats for wildlife.

In due course will be reintroducing cattle within an internal perimeter fence during the summer months to improve the habitat for wildlife. We’ll also enhance the existing hedgerows, which are important habitats for a range of wildlife.

How will I be able to visit the reserve?

Once the reserve is established, it will offer new access for the local community. As well as the existing right of way along the railway line, we are creating new permissive public access, in the form of a 2.75 km circular path around the perimeter of the site. This will be approximately a 45 minute walk, on a grassed, natural path, taking in spectacular views across the wildflower meadows. Responsible dog-walking will be permitted on the circular path, and will be separated from sensitive wildlife areas and livestock by fencing.

What about the long term future of the site?

The Wildlife Trust is pleased to have successfully campaigned through working with Winchester City Council for this new nature reserve not only to be created, but to be protected as a nature reserve for the foreseeable future.

How can I get involved?

We will be looking for local volunteers to help us look after the reserve, including helping with practical conservation management. If you want to get some fresh air, exercise, and meet new people, register your interest with us, and we'll get back in touch when we're putting the volunteer team together. We’ll also be running education and engagement events on the reserve – keep an eye out for more info as these develop.

If you have any questions, or would like to get involved in Barton Meadows nature reserve, email us on feedback@hiwwt.org.uk