In 2000, the Trust was able to buy some of the land adjacent to the eastern and southern parts of the Ebernoe Common Nature Reserve. These fields, woodlands, and droveways had been linked to the Common for hundreds of years, providing generations of farmers and commoners with opportunities to undertake grazing and produce arable crops. This intimate mosaic of fields and woods had changed in recent years to allow more commercial agricultural practices and many of the fields were producing cereal crops just before our purchase.
Our ambition here, has always been to create a type of wood pasture habitat through a combination of natural regeneration and low intensity cattle grazing. We are confident that this approach will develop a diverse and interesting landscape full of wildlife, which will both complement and merge into the existing wood pasture of Ebernoe Common.
In time, we hope that the boundaries of the new and old wood pasture will blur and that cattle will be able to move between the reserves, helping to create a natural patchwork of habitats across the whole site.
The former arable fields have already changed substantially, with new flowering plants appearing every year and many shrubs becoming well established. There are well over 25,000 young trees developing across the reserve and many of these are protected by thick blocks of scrub, especially Hawthorn and Blackthorn. The developing scrub is also providing a home to a good number of breeding Nightingales alongside Whitethroat and Linnet – we even have regular sightings of Dartford Warbler and Turtle Dove.
The grasslands are developing well and are also home to a large number of invertebrates, especially butterflies – many of these are common meadow species but we also have a fantastic population of Marbled Whites and occasional Brown Hairstreak and Wood White.