Woolmer Forest Heritage Society

An Introduction to the Natural History of the Woolmer Forest at Bordon in Hampshire

An Introduction to the Natural History in the area of Whitehill and Bordon Parish on the Woolmer Forest

( details taken from WOW )

Our Parish is unique! Within its environs all the 12 native reptiles and amphibians live and breed. In the British Isles the Parish of Whitehill and Bordon is alone in this respect. These species have been maintained and their numbers increased by the careful management of their habitat and by continuous monitoring of their activities. The land on which they live is owned by Defence Estates and the Army manages the area in consultation with the Longmoor Conservation Group.

On this heathland in the spring, there is movement around the ponds as frogs and common toads begin to lay clumps of spawn or strings of eggs. They are followed by the three species of newts, smooth, palmate and great crested. Meanwhile a stirring in the heather reveals brilliant green sand lizards, darker viviparous lizards and silver-brown slow worms coming out of hibernation and warming up in the sunshine. They are joined by adders, grass snakes and smooth snakes looking for suitable sites to lay their eggs or bear live young. Finally the natterjack toads head for the scrapes and begin to lay their single strings of eggs.

The heathland of Woolmer Forest is also recognized by the European Union as being an extremely special habitat for three birds, the Woodlark, the Dartford Warbler and the Nightjar. As a consequence it has been designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), part of a larger swathe of heathland, the Wealden Heaths, which are now greatly fragmented.

Other parts of our Parish have been given special status such as Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).

The designated sites, some 60% of the area of the parish, already have effective Management Plans in place. This Local Biodiversity Action Plan will therefore not include plans for these designated areas.

The Parish of Whitehill also has a Local Nature Reserve (LNR), which runs alongside the built up area in the valley of the Deadwater. This contains many ancient woodland species such as primroses, bluebells, pignut and moschatel. It produces six species of orchids including the rare green-flowered helleborine. It is much used by all age groups as a recreation facility, from school groups coming to investigate nature at first hand with the Deadwater Ranger to families walking the dog on the Royal Woolmer Way from Liss to Frensham.

The Deadwater Valley LNR also has a formal Management Plan and this Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) will therefore not include plans for the Local Nature Reserve.

These wonderful areas are enjoyed in our Parish by a population of around 14,000. In 2011 the Garrison in Bordon is relocating to Wales, which will release a large amount of land in the centre of the town and around the periphery in the east. This is expected to result in the addition of another 4,000 to 5,500 houses increasing the population to 25,000 or more. Hampshire County Council, as part of their Minerals and Waste Strategy, has proposed the removal of sand from these areas prior to any development. The impact on these designated areas and other undesignated parts of the Parish will be considerable.

People like to live and work in a pleasant environment and the natural world surrounding them is an important part of this. Everyone values an area of open land near to them where they can go and escape from the often fast pace of life. They may enjoy walking, cycling, fishing or bird watching. So some of these spaces need to remain to provide a breathing space and to form a link between one green area and another.