West Berkshire Reserves and Commons

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Ponies at Greenham Common by Rob ApplebyPonies at Greenham Common by Rob Appleby

Nine important wildlife sites in West Berkshire and the Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham are now managed by the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust under a new agreement between West Berkshire Council, the landowners and the Wildlife Trust.

Securing the long-term future of these wonderful sites for wildlife and people.

Philippa Lyons

The transfer of management took place on Monday 6 January 2014. From that date forward BBOWT is now directly responsible for the day to day management of the sites.

BBOWT is committed to making these special wildlife sites available for everyone in West Berkshire to enjoy, while continuing the dedicated management work carried out by West Berkshire Council staff who are joining the BBOWT team.

Reserves and Commons

A stunning patchwork of open heathland and wet bog fringed with woodland. It is home to common reptiles and a breeding population of the nationally rare nightjar.

Read more about Snelsmore Common

An unspoilt area of woodland with large patches of heathland, acid grassland and ponds. The green tiger beetle, woodlark and meadow pipit are flourishing onsite. 


Take a relaxing stroll around the lake, through meadows and under the trees. A wide variety of water fowl overwinter here and in the spring nightingales join the butterflies and dragonflies.

Read more about Hosehill Lake


A quiet site with a network of trails through shady woodland, and heathland, past ponds and rich wet gullies.  

Read more about Wokefield Common.

This tranquil woodland and heathland hosts a wealth of bird life including the Dartford warbler, tree pipit, stonechat and woodlark.

Read more about Padworth Common.

A former gravel pit with a diverse range of habitats including woodland,  lakes, old ridge and furrow landscape and a lapwing area.  

Read more about Paices Wood.

One of the largest areas of inland reedbed in southern England and part of a mosaic of wetland habitats including lakes, river and Kennet & Avon Canal.

Read more about Thatcham Reedbeds.

A rich array of heathland, woodland, grassland and wetland. BBOWT manages this land as part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape.

Read more about Greenham and Crookham Commons.

This meadow and woodland close to Greenham Common provides a perfect site for the Wildlife Trust to develop new projects within Linking the Landscape in West Berkshire. 



Question. Why is this happening?

Answer. BBOWT and West Berkshire Council share a joint vision for these nine sites: to deliver increased and lasting benefits for people and wildlife through effective and sustainable site management.

Through managing the sites alongside its existing network of 79 nature reserves, BBOWT will be able to take advantage of the economies of scale to optimise site management, ecological expertise and resources. BBOWT will be working with local groups and volunteers who currently carry out important conservation work at sites, such as Hosehill Lake, to develop and implement management plans.

From the Council’s viewpoint, in addition to bringing extra experience in land management to the project, BBOWT will greatly enhance public perception of the sites as important for wildlife. BBOWT has an excellent public profile and will continue to encourage public involvement and appreciation of these sites. Pooling resources and experience is beneficial to wildlife and local residents.

The new working relationship will secure the long-term future of the sites, deliver enhanced management to restore habitats for endangered wildlife e.g. adders, nightjars and Dartford warblers, and enable more people to have the chance to enjoy them. It will also enable BBOWT to deliver our joint vision, with West Berkshire Council, of a Living Landscape: bigger areas of quality wildlife sites linked across the landscape, enabling wildlife to move and thrive.

Question. What differences will people notice when they visit Snelsmore Common, the Nature Discovery Centre, or other sites?

Answer. Visitors to these sites will not see many differences. West Berkshire Council has promoted these lovely wild places, such as Snelsmore Common and Paices Wood, for everyone to enjoy. Working with our colleagues who join us from the Council we will continue to encourage more people to explore and discover their local wildlife.

Question. Will BBOWT shut any of the reserves to the public, or restrict public access?

Answer. No. BBOWT and West Berkshire Council are committed to increasing public access and making visits to these wildlife sites even more enjoyable. Some sites may be managed by livestock grazing, which may require the installation of stock fencing. This will be subject to the usual community consultation and planning processes.

Question. Will dogs be allowed on the reserves?

Answer. Yes. All sites will undergo an access review to ensure all visitors can enjoy them and there is a balance between their needs and those of the wildlife. Any relevant legislation will also be considered and adhered to, e.g. the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, and stakeholders and private landowners (if appropriate) will be consulted. Through this process we will aim to ensure local people can continue to enjoy and access the Reserves and Commons to the level they are used to, or even greater, but that the needs of wildlife are also recognised and provided for.

Question. Local conservation groups (such as members of the West Berkshire Countryside Society) look after several of the reserves – what’s happening to them?

Answer. BBOWT will be working with and supporting these local groups, many of whom we already know well, to deliver management on the nine sites. BBOWT has a long history of attracting, working with and supporting volunteers, who are vital to delivering conservation management and improvements on wildlife sites. We will also look at opportunities for creating new local groups where needed, involving individuals as volunteers and working with local businesses to set up employer-supported volunteering on the sites.






Living Landscapes for all

A Living Landscape

Read our recovery plan for nature.

Heathland under threat

Male stonechat by David Kilbey

Did you know that heathland is rarer than rainforest? More than 80% of our lowland heaths have been destroyed since the 19th century. Find out more about why our heathland is under threat and what you can do to help.

What's on

Nature Tots - Maidenhead

Monday 23rd July 2018,
9.30am - 11.30am

Venue: Woolley Firs Environmental Education Centre, Cherry Garden Lane, Maidenhead

Come along to our parent and toddler group. A great opportunity each month for you and your pre-school little ones to have fun in natural surroundings. Each session will include activities such as bug-hunting, mud digging and mask-making. Games, story-time and refreshments also included! All children must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for children aged 18 months - 4 years (younger siblings welcome). BOOKING ESSENTIAL. Please wear clothing suitable for the weather. Distances are suitable for little ones.

See all events