Shortheath Common Local Nature Reserve

Heathland and woodland with an important wet valley mire


About the site

Shortheath Common in the east of the county is a diverse site covering 58 hectares. This ancient common land has special conservation status in recognition of its many habitats. You can enjoy the common by walking, jogging and angling. Horse riders can enjoy views across the common from the bridleways at the western and northern edges of the site.

Please do not disturb

Rare ground-nesting birds such as woodlark and nightjar nest here. These birds migrate from as far away as South Africa to breed on our heathlands between March and the end of July each year. They are vulnerable to disturbance, particularly by dogs. When disturbed, the birds fly from their nests, using up vital energy and leaving their young vulnerable to birds, foxes and snakes. Please help to protect these rare birds by keeping to paths and making sure your canine friends do the same!

Conservation and management

Shortheath Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), giving it legal protection under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. It is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This means that Hampshire County Council has a duty to protect the site from activities that could damage it.

Improving the quality of the habitats while maintaining access to them for recreational purposes is key. This involves a great deal of work to manage the site. Past efforts include the removal of secondary woodland and scrub to recreate the open areas that are an historical feature of the site.

Flora and fauna

Shortheath Common has a wide range of habitats which account for a rich biological diversity. Much of the site is now dominated by semi-natural oak and birch woodland. But it retains a large pond, wet and dry heath, acid grassland, oligotrophic and dystrophic pool and unusual inland ‘sand dune’ type communities. It also has an outstanding area of schwingmoor - classified under the SAC as ‘transition mire and quaking bog’.

Due to the range and quality of its habitats, Shortheath is able to support a prolific and diverse invertebrate fauna. It is host to 23 different dragonflies, including the scarce club-tailed dragonfly 'Gomphus vulgatissimus'. The endangered field cricket 'Gryllus campestris' was reintroduced to the site under Natural England’s ‘Species Recovery Programme,’ and the ‘song’ of the males can be heard between May and August.

Contact us

North Area Office, Basing House, Redbridge Lane, Old Basing, RG24 7HB

Phone 01252 870425

Email [email protected]