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
Hampshire BAP Priority Habitat Action Plans
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