Wigmore Heath given Local Nature Reserve status
The heath, an area of lowland and woodland in Heath End, between Baughurst and Tadley, contains important habitats and is already a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
It has suffered the effects of antisocial behaviour and gradually eroded over the years, with the heathland being replaced by scrub and small trees. Pathways also cross the site and further blight the heathland habitat.
Last summer, fires caused damage to the heath and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and volunteers carried out restorative ecological work to support the protected plants and animals.
The LNR status will enable long-term management of the heath to improve its natural habitats and the species living there, including common lizards, slow worms, butterflies and crickets.
The aim of the new LNR is to reverse the erosion of the heathland and expand it to double its present size by removing self-seeded trees and shrubs from around the heath edge. Further management will seek to establish better heathland planting in a more open habitat.
The new status will also lead to greater volunteer involvement in nature conservation on the site and encourage local schools and other children’s groups to use the site for learning about the natural environment.
Following public consultation, and with the support of Natural England, local ward members and Tadley Town Council, the borough council decided to declare the site a LNR in order to protect and enhance the natural environment.
Cabinet Member for Planning, Infrastructure and Natural Environment Cllr Mark Ruffell said: “The declaration of Wigmore Heath Local Nature Reserve will protect and enhance the natural environment, allowing wildlife to flourish and creating a place where local residents will once again enjoy a lovely open space.
“The go-ahead is part of an ongoing council strategy to create a number of LNRs through the borough in support of our diverse natural environment.
“It also reflects the effort put in by the local volunteer wildlife group into the management of the heath and it will encourage greater involvement by volunteers and users in learning about the site’s special habitats and species.”