West Wight

Heathland at Brighstone

Home to internationally-important numbers of brent goose and bar-tailed godwit, as well as 80% of the world population of early gentian, the west of the Isle of Wight has a great deal of wildlife to protect.

The Isle of Wight has no feral deer, no mink and, perhaps most famously, no grey squirrels. As a result our woodlands are unique, with good coppice growth and thick scrub providing an ideal habitat for red squirrels and dormice. On our rivers, the lack of mink means that water birds and water vole thrive.

Away from our woodlands we have wonderful open species-rich downland. Our coastline includes large areas of undisturbed mud and sandflats, and our saltmarshes hold all four species of cord-grass, including the rare common cord-grass. Our estuaries and coastline boast fine chalk cliffs and shorelines rich in eelgrass, again a nationally rare species

Where is it?

From the Needles in the west to Carisbrooke in the east, the Western Isle of Wight is noted for its small villages and spectacular open landscapes dominated by the downs and the sea.

Nature reserves

Bouldner by Natalie LightBouldnor Forest - a coastal woodland and heathland reserve. The wooded sections are home to red squirrels and unusual birds such as crossbill, goldcrest and raven. The heathland supports flowers such as pale dog violet, cyperus sedge, ling and bell heather. This site is part of the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and contains the Bouldnor and Hamstead cliffs which are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Ningwood Common - just under 12 hectares, the Common is a mix of habitats including acid grassland, clay heath scrub and woodland. The reserve is inside the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the site is an SSSI, designated for the presence of the reddish buff moth. Birds such as redstart can be seen in the wooded sections whereas the heath sustains populations of butterflies such as pearl bordered fritillary and white admiral and plants such as saw-wort and fleabane. Nightingale and lesser whitethroat sing from the scrub during summer.