Rising through the chalk aquifer of the Hampshire Downs, and flowing over a landscape made of gravels, clays and sands, the river of the Loddon catchment runs through a variety of habitats rich in wildlife, that support a whole host of internationally important species. Surrounding these is an area of open countryside shaped by a traditional way of life resulting in a patchwork of mixed farmland, ancient woodlands and beautiful hedgerows.
A large, and internationally important, feature of this area is the mosaic of wet and dry heathlands and acid grasslands, which form part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Notified for its populations of ground nesting birds this area is also a refuge for reptiles, increasingly rare plants and insects.
Wildlife supported in this area includes:
- Dartford warbler
- Silver-studded blue butterfly
- Marsh clubmoss
- Brown hare
- Water vole
- Brown trout
- Rare arable flora
To manage our heathland sites, we employ a range of management techniques, including mowing, grazing, tree and shrub clearance and the provision of bare ground. We have recently been consulting with the Forestry Commission regarding the use of controlled burning as a management tool. For further information, please see here.
As a result, we will be undertaking some small controlled burns this winter, at Yateley Common, Caesar's Camp and possibly, Hook Common. Areas to be burnt will be approximately 20 metres squared in size. The chosen sites have had fire breaks mown around their periphery to ensure that the fire is contained, and a rigorous risk assessment process has been undertaken to ensure that all safety considerations have been identified.
Where is it?
Loddon and Eversley: a 360-degree panorama view
Greywell Moors - a wet fen that borders the upper reaches of the River Whitewater. The site has a unique flora, with plants such as bog bean and marsh valerian. During the spring and summer you can hear the constant chatter of reed warblers. The fen is managed by cattle grazing to prevent trees and reeds shading out the rare flowers.
Hook Common and Bartley Heath - formed of a network of over 330 acres of heathland and woodland near the village of Hook in north Hampshire. They are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated mainly for the high quality wet heathland plant community.
Mapledurwell Fen - a rich wet fen with neutral grassland. It is a small relic of Mapledurwell Common and supports a wide variety of flowering plants, including rare fen specialists and several orchid species. Grazing is carried out to prevent tall plants dominating and to maintain the diversity of flora species.
Warnborough Greens - two flower-rich wet meadows fed by the beautiful chalk river, the Whitewater. The type of water makes these fens suitable for a variety of unusual wetland species.
Whitehouse Meadows - an excellent example of a wet acidic grassland. It is all that remains of a much larger habitat which once covered the area. It has many flowering plants which have become established through centuries of grazing and which provide a valuable food source for butterflies. The site is managed by cattle grazing and scrub removal.