About the site
Yateley Common plays an important role in nature conservation and is protected under UK and EU law. It is also a vital recreational resource for the local community and visitors to the area.
Much of the common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area (SPA) because of its importance for wildlife.
It has a dense network of bridleways with many smaller paths. We ask horse riders to use designated bridleways and walkers to keep to paths. This prevents our ground nesting birds from being disturbed.
The wide variety of habitats on Yateley Common Country Park make it suitable for a range of wildlife. The areas of heathland consist of three types of heather - ling, bell heather and cross-leaved heath - along with common and dwarf gorse. These areas support a variety of specialised heathland wildlife. This includes many breeding birds of European importance, like nightjars, Dartford warblers and stonechats.
The heathland on the common is warm and sandy, which makes it an ideal home for insects and reptiles. These include the heath potter wasp, the viviparous lizard and adders. The common also supports a variety of butterflies, like the silver studded blue and the grayling.
Many interesting flowers, such as bee orchids and carline thistle, grow on the grassland areas to the west of the site. In spring bluebells and wood anemones carpet old wooded hedge banks and the distinctive song of the nightingale is often heard alongside more common species, such as the garden warbler and chaffinch.
The ponds and lakes on the common are particularly important for many scarce dragonflies and damselflies, including the black darter and downy emerald. Six species of notable water beetles are also present.
To preserve the heathland habitat we have to remove large areas of scrub and trees that would block out the valuable wildlife. After clearing an area it is often necessary to scrape off the nutrient rich layer of top soil. Heather cannot compete with other plants when soil conditions improve because it adapts to poor soils. Once an area is scraped the heather can regenerate from the seeds remaining in the soil. Bracken control is another important aspect of our heathland management work.
As well as preserving the heathland, we also maintain several habitats and vegetation structures. This includes woodland, scrub, scattered trees and grassland. It enables a wide diversity of wildlife to survive. This is important for species that use more than one habitat during their lifecycle or daily activities. Some species are especially reliant upon the boundaries between habitat types.
If invasive species, such as rhododendron, become established then every effort is made to eradicate them before they out compete the native wildlife.
Each year the Countryside Staff carry out surveys to monitor the Special Protection Area birds and reptiles on Yateley Common.