Historically, heaths such as those found at Yateley Common, Castle Bottom NNR, Shortheath Common SAC and Broxhead Common LNR were open landscapes with few trees and traditional uses of the land, such as gorse coppicing, grazing and birch cutting prevented trees and scrub from dominating the landscape. In the absence of these activities, tree removal and scrub control work is necessary, now carried out by HCC staff, contractors and volunteers alike, all working to preserve the open character of these important heathland sites.

The following scrub removal and mowing is taking place this winter in order to restore these areas to heathland, recreating and reconnecting the open character and landscape of the Common. Works are part of an on-going heathland management programme and are approved and funded through Natural England.

The maps below show the areas on which contractors will be working over the coming winter months. Our contractors are specialists in conservation management and work within carefully considered specifications to minimise disturbance to visitors and maximise the diversity for wildlife.

Yateley Common:

Castle Bottom NNR:

Shortheath Common:

Broxhead Common:

We appreciate that these works can sometimes seem quite destructive and can initially be visually unappealing, however, after a relatively short period of time and with some targeted follow-up management the open heathland habitats begin to flourish and species typically associated with them start to utilise the additional habitat available to them. It is hoped that within 3-5 years heathland habitats within these areas will have re-stablished and in fact have begun to  flourish.

These works are important for several reasons:

  1. Lowland heathland – the type of habitat found on Yateley Common, Castle Bottom NNR, Shortheath Common and Broxhead Common – is highly threatened, with at least 80% of lowland heathland being lost over the last 200 years.
  2. To restore and preserve the open character of the landscape, which is of value to many users of these sites.
  3. Many special plants, birds, insects and reptiles rely on the heathland habitats found on the heaths; the species and habitat for which the site is protected and designated under UK and EU law.

If you have any queries about these works or our heaths in general, then please call the Rangers on 01252 870425 or e-mail us at northern.sites@hants.gov.uk.