The total area of this BOA is 4111ha, of which 374ha are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and 529ha are Local Wildlife Sites.
The plateau south of the River Kennet and east of the River Enbourne. Extends from Wasing in the west to Burgfield in the east. Encompasses all the glacial gravel soils that overlie much of the area as well as the steeper sides of the plateau. Extends into Hampshire to include areas with similar geology including the heathland at Silchester Common, although the extent of this area is indicative only.
Joint Character Area: Thames Basin Heaths
Geology: The area is extensively covered by the glacial Silchester Gravel deposits. Fringing this there is an often narrow band of London Clay Formation sand (Bagshot Beds), which forms a few more extensive patches in places. There are also some patches of Head which is gravel, sand, silt and clay. The slopes are largely London Clay Formation clay, silt and sand.
Topography: A largely flat plateau with steep sides in places especially in the north and west.
Heathland: Scattered heathland remnants are found at sites such as Decoy Heath, as well as the more extensive area at Silchester Common. Many heathland areas have been planted with woodland in the past.
Acid grassland: There are scattered areas of acid grassland south of Aldermaston and associated with some of the commonland.
Parkland: Important parkland habitat is found at Aldermaston Court and there is also parkland habitat within the Atomic Weapons Establishment site.
Standing water: There are a number of important ponds and small lakes including those at Decoy Heath and Wasing Wood Ponds. These sites are important from dragonflies and damselflies.
Woodland: This is the most extensive habitat in the area. Sites include Redlands Copse (part of Ashford Hill Woods and Meadows SSSI) and Wasing Wood. Also includes Pamber Forest which is an important site for butterflies. Much of the woodland is secondary woodland that has developed on common land or in plantation, often on old heathland sites. Wet woodland is found in gullies where narrow valleys cut through the plateau ay sites such as Padworth Gully.
Lowland meadow: Restricted to one site - West Meadow at Aldermaston, which is quite acidic in nature.
Access: There are a number of accessible commons including Wokefield, Padworth and Silchester. Decoy Heath is a BBOWT nature reserve.
Targets and Opportunities: Heathland and acid grassland restoration. There is much potential for heathland restoration in planted woodland sites. Parkland and woodland management. There is potential for lowland meadow creation on the London Clay formation but this is not a priority target for this area. The West Berkshire Living Landscape Project area extends onto this area at the western end.
If you would like to get involved with projects in this BOA please contact us for current opportunities.