© Pete Bickford
A large area of rare, unimproved, species rich wet grassland, traversed by ditches.
Just east of Brookwood, on the south side of Basingstoke Canal is Brookwood Lye, a large area of rare, unimproved, species-rich wet grassland traversed by ditches.
Wet alder carr, willow and oak in the north and secondary broadleaved woodland to the south help to make Brookwood Lye a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).
About 50 years ago the woodland area was encroached and overgrown and the ditches needed to be cleared to prevent the meadow from drying out. The meadow area was however grazed to prevent encroachment and help increase wildlife diversity.
Wet conditions make the site valuable for wildlife, but make practical work a little more difficult, particularly as most of the work has to be done in the wetter, winter months so as to avoid disturbing breeding animals. Clearance work will encourage natural regeneration of the native grassland and so increase invertebrate, mammal and bird habitats.
We are currently improving access so that people can observe the wildlife without wading through knee-deep mud or disturb the sensitive species. Interpretation boards are also being installed to help visitors get the most out of their visit. We are opening up the grassland, creating glades and rides.
Clearing the woodland ditches will create a perfect habitat for water voles, allowing light in and encouraging non-woody marsh plants to grow along the stream and the drainage ditches. Many species will benefit, including dragonflies, which will be able to ‘migrate’ easily between the Basingstoke Canal Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), famous for its breeding dragonflies and the rich feeding grounds of the damp meadow.
Species and habitats