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Thames Basin Heaths

This area includes the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) and the area between Bracknell and Ascot including Swinley Park and Brick Pits SSSI and Englemere Pond SSSI. To the west it includes a band of land south of Crowthorne and Wokingham where there are more heathland and bog sites such as Sandhurst to Owlsmoor Bogs and Heaths SSSI and a group of sites with remnants of these habitats.

Click here for area map.

Joint Character Area: Thames Basin Heaths

Geology: This area has a complex and varied geology doiminated by various types of sand. The central area where the SPA is located has Camberley Sand with large areas of Surrey Hill Gravel. In the east there are the clays, silts and sands of the Windlesham Formation and in the north east Bagshot Formation sand. There are also patches of Swinley Clay, Head and River Terrace Gravel and Sand. The western has Camberley Sand, overlain in places by River Terrace Sand and Gravel, and a band of Windlesham Formation Sand. The north western area is Bagshot Sand with Head and River Terrace Sand and Gravel.

Topography: an undulating area with slopes running down to the Blackwater Valley in the south.

Biodiodiversity

Heathland and Bog: There are extensive areas of heathland and bog at Sandhurst to Owlsmoor Bogs and Heaths SSSI, Wellington Bog SSSI and within the southern half of the Broadmoor to Bagshot Heaths and Woods SSSI, the northern areas being used as forestry. Remnants are found elsewhere including the Transport Research Laboratory and Beaufort Park near Crowthorne. Bog is also found in association with ponds and small lakes at Englemere Pond and Rapley Lakes. In the west remnants of these habitats are found. The heathland is important for species such as Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler and also reptiles and butterflies such as Silver-studded Blue and Grayling.

Woodland: there are extensive areas of largely planted woodland and some semi-natural acidic woodland areas. There are patches of wet woodland in places. Some of the coniferous plantation has become a focus for vulnerable bird species such as Firecrest and Hobby.

Parkland and Wood pasture. There are numerous veteran trees within planted woodland at Swinley Park.

Ponds: The ponds and small lakes at Swinley Brick Pits, Rapley Lakes and Wellington College support good populations of dragonflies and damselflies, which are also associated with a number of other sites, and there are Great-crested Newts at Swinley.

Geodiversity: The area has a number of important features such as the clear changes in underlying geology shown at Finchampstead Ridges.

Access: Access in the east is extensive but controlled within MOD land and other open access areas. Finchampstead Ridges is owned by the National Trust.

Targets and Opportunities: Heathland and bog restoration and management. Education and access control. Significant areas of land are owned by MOD, Crown Estate, National Trust and BBOWT.

If you would like to get involved with projects in this BOA please contact us for current opportunities.