Woolmer Forest Heritage Society

The Natural History of The Slab Common on the Woolmer Forest at Bordon

The Slab (Slab Common) and its Natural History

Total Area - 62 Hectares

The location is centred on British National Grid reference SU780352. It is bounded on its northern edge by Oakhanger Road, on its western and southern edge by the stream which forms the Parish boundary and its eastern side abuts the housing development alongside Hogmoor Road.

The Slab is a registered common comprising the north eastern part of a larger heathland area. This is a SINC which also contains The Warren, Southlands and Blackmoor Golf Course. The Slab is the only part within the Parish of Whitehill. It has been used as a military training area since the 19th Century and in the 20th Century as a military vehicle recovery site replicating the adverse conditions present on sandy soils in many countries.

The natural history value of this site relates to the dry and wet heathland, the streams and wetland areas. The bare soil areas exposed by military activities are particularly interesting. However, this interest is not in the very eroded, continually used area, but in the much less frequently used edges to these areas. Here common and more local plants are able to flourish and flower without being crowded out by lush grass growth.

Such plants include Small Cudweed (Filago minima), Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and various species of yellow Compositae, which are invaluable to some solitary bee species. Local species occurring here include the solitary bees Melitta leporina which visits the Lotus and is uncommon in heathland situations and the scarce species Halictus confusus and Lasioglossum brevicorne which pollinate the Compositae. This site includes a number of cuttings with sandy cliffs where the military vehicles pass through. These cliff-like sites providing nesting areas for a number of the solitary wasp and bee species, that would not otherwise be present.

The structure of this site and its northern roadside fringes include extensive areas of shrubs and also includes blackberry (Rubus sp). The flowers of this are important to many insects as are the stems, which, when hollowed out by some species of solitary bee or wasp, become their nest sites. The Scots Pine woods with clear areas underneath, in the east of the site, are less interesting. However, even these are home to Tawny Owls which can regularly be heard hooting from them at night. Common Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) has been found in this area in the past. To the south the heathy vegetation still contains a number of botanical rarities including Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) and three patches of Marsh Clubmoss (Lycopodiella inundata).

There are some streams traversing this site and many wet areas. The former historically held Brook Lamprey (Lampetra planeri) and the open waters are good for dragonflies and damselflies, such as the Emperor (Anax imperator), Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) and Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo). Blackmoor Golf Course previously held the rare beetle (Platycis minuta), which feeds on old pine wood.

     UK BAP Species

          Nightjar   Caprimulgus europaeus
          Woodlark   Lullula arborea
          Marsh Club moss   Lycopodiella inundata
          Annual Knawel   Scleranthus annuus
          Grass Snake  Natrix natrix
          Adder   Vipera beris
          Slow Worm   Anguis fragilis
          Common Toad   Bufo bufo
          Common Lizard   Lacerta vivipara

Click an image to enlarge
Wood lark
Marsh Club Moss
Annual Knawel
Grass Snake
Slow Worm
Common Toad
Common Lizard

     Hampshire BAP Priority Habitat Action Plans

          Lowland Heath
          Acid grassland

Low Land Heath
Acid Grass Land

     Notable Hampshire Species

          Hoary Cinquefoil   Potentilla argentea
          Hare's-tail Cotton Grass   Eriophorum vaginatum
          Alternate Water Milfoil   Myriophyllum verticillatum
          White Beak-Sedge   Rhynchospora alba
          Hairy Birdsfoot Trefoil   Lotus subbiflorus
          Dodder   Cuscuta epithymum
          Petty Whin   Genista anglica
          Shepherd's Cress   Teesdalia nudicaulis

Hoary Cinquefoil
Hares tail Cotton Grass
Alternate Water Milfoil
Hairy Birdsfoot
Petty Whin
Shepherd Cress