West Berkshire Living Landscape
A landscape rich with history and wildlife
The West Berkshire Living Landscape scheme covers 27 square kilometres, including the river valleys of the Enborne and the Kennet which are separated by the higher gravel plateau and heathland mosaic of Greenham and Crookham Commons. A quarter of the project area is designated as important for wildlife, either locally, nationally or internationally.
The Living Landscape contains at least 97 threatened or endangered species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, adder and woodlark. Despite this wealth of wildlife, the landscape has become fragmented. Lowland heathland such as the Greenham and Crookham Commons is one of the most threatened habitats in England, and since 2008 we have expanded and enhanced this precious landscape by increasing the areas of heathland and improving the links between fragmented pockets.
Making a difference for threatened wildlife
Our aim is to protect, expand and enhance this unique and diverse landscape of West Berkshire, creating an environment richer in wildlife for everyone.
Our volunteer work parties maintain these habitats and we carry out regular surveys to monitor the effectiveness of our management. We are working with local landowners and farmers to improve the links between habitats on their land and our nature reserves. These links include hedgerows, woodland, ponds and streams, which provide vital ‘corridors’ for wildlife to move across the Living Landscape.
We also employ seasonal wardens to meet visitors on Greenham and Crookham Commons to explain why and how to avoid disturbing our precious ground-nesting birds, and run regular guided walks and volunteer activities.
Nature reserves within the Living Landscape
Our nature reserves in the West Berkshire Living Landscape area include:
- Thatcham Reedbeds, one of the largest areas of inland reedbed in southern England
- Audrey’s Meadow (a mix of lowland meadow and woodland with ponds)
- Bowdown Woods, a magnificent and mysterious woodland
- The Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham is at the centre of the project area and a great place to take the family and learn more about the wildlife of the area.
Projects in the Living Landscape
Our conservation work with West Berkshire Council in the Living Landscape area has included two major projects.
The three-year project Heathland and Beyond enlarged the heathland areas at Crookham Common by 8%. The success of this project led to a five-year National Lottery Heritage Fund Linking the Landscape project which concluded in January 2019. This project saw us working with landowners across the Living Landscape area to improve habitat quality, extent and connectivity.
To get involved with our work in the West Berkshire Living Landscape join one of our work parties below.
Other volunteering opportunities
Bowdown Woods nature reserve nr. Newbury
1st Sunday of each month from October to April
Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham
Meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month
Thatcham Community Orchard Group (at the Nature Discovery Centre)
Meet regularly throughout the year
West Berkshire Thursday Volunteers (Padworth Common)
2nd Thursday of every month from September to May
Species and habitats
Find out more about the rare and threatened species our staff and volunteers are creating habitats for in the West Berkshire Living Landscape.
Explore the area
West Berks Walk One
West Berks Walk One
Enjoy varied wetland wildlife, ancient woods and rare heathland. Starting in Thatcham, this 6-mile circular walk takes in Bowdown Woods nature reserve. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 158 1:25,000 scale, covers the route.
West Berks Walk Two
West Berks Walk Two
Walk along the River Enborne, through woodland and pastures. Starting at Thatcham railway station, this 6-mile circular walk takes in part of of Greenham and Crookham Commons. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 158 1:25,000 scale, covers the route.