Keeping Southwood Woodland’s History Alive


The wet weather at the start of the day wasn’t enough to deter the Southwood Woodland Improvement Group this month. Our mission was threefold and nothing could stop us not even double layers of concrete!

Our main task was to open up the heathland glade by digging out tree saplings and cutting back Broom and European gorse. This habitat gives us a great insight into what the area may have looked like back when it was a medieval farm.


Heathland glade after scrub clearance

Heathlands were a big part of the farming system heather for thatch, turves for fuel, bracken for bedding and potash and gorse for bread ovens and livestock fodder. Grazing and tree removal in this area hundreds of years ago will have caused the nutrient levels in the soil to fall further and the acidity to increase, which will have encouraged heather to grow. Without this task the glade would naturally develop back into woodland. By cutting back the scrub encroachment we can keep a diversity of habitats and the local  history alive.


Having a fire is a great way to get rid of the cut vegetation and keep us all warm!

The volunteers also removed a fingerpost that had unfortunately been vandalised. It took a lot longer than expected because there was not one but TWO layers of concrete holding the post in!

We also sowed seeds and planted bulbs as part of the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust project to improve the understory of woodlands in the Blackwater Valley. The seeds and bulbs included different native species chosen for their ability to thrive in shady areas underneath the woodland canopy. Keep an eye out next Spring for wildlfowers.

Thank you very much to all the volunteers for their hard work.

If you would like to find out more or join us, please meet us at 10:30am at the Kennels Lane entrance on Sunday 24th November.

Ranger Jenny

About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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