Forest of Bere

Swanwick Lakes nature reserve by John Windust

This historic hunting forest was traditionally a mixture of heathlands, woodland, pasture and wood pasture, permeated by smaller rivers.

The Trust aims for its wildlife beneficial land management practices of its nature reserves to expand into neighbouring holdings through management agreements, land acquisition and providing advise to landowners to create larger areas for wildlife to flourish. 

We hope that this will allow urban populations of south Hampshire to have better access to quality green space, and that the rural economy will be more sustainable and the water quality of rivers and water ways will improve.

Where it is

The historic Forest extends right across South East Hampshire but the Trust’s area of focus is between the River Hamble and the land of Portsdown Hill and the chalk South Downs.


Great Crested Newt by David KilbeyThe Trusts vision is that this now public forest estate is restored to its traditional mix of habitats, and that species like great crested newt, nightingale and small-leaved lime are able to thrive.

What would we like to do in the future?

  • Lobby for habitat restoration as part of the provision of green open spaces.
  • Work with our partners to help create high quality open spaces.
  • Continue habitat creation and restoration on our nature reserves.
  • Look at possible land acquisition close to existing reserves.
  • Help support sustainable wood fuel and livestock production.

Nature Reserves

Swanwick Lakes - This site is an almost entirely man-made landscape. Formerly used for clay extraction the now flooded pits support a wide variety of plants and animals. Woodland has grown up on the spoil heaps and wildflowers abound in the grazed meadows. The reserve covers about 80 acres.

Hookheath Meadows - Consists of a series of small unimproved lowland ‘meadows’ with adjoining scrub and broadleaved woodland. There is no public access onto the reserve; however a public footpath crosses the southernmost corner of the site. This reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, designated for its unimproved acid pasture the associated flora and incredibly rich invertebrate life.