- Overview of habitat
This is a large wood extending to 37 hectares, regenerating naturally following gravel extraction in the 20th century. In medieval times it was a wood pasture common where local people grazed animals, gathered fuel and fed their pigs on acorns.
When the wood was enclosed by an Act of Parliament, it was used for growing timber. It was then sold for gravel extraction.
Birch trees and heathland species regenerated on the open sandy centre of the site, while original oak and hornbeam woodland remained around the perimeter. Some 40 hornbeam pollards remain as clues to the reserve's past. Sandy soils also provide homes for rare solitary bees and wasps.
- How to access
- Mardley Heath has a dedicated free car park on the north side of heath road, accessible on foot, by car, or bicycle. The site’s topography varies due to its past use as a gravel pit meaning some areas are only suited for able-bodied visitors. The heath does however have a ‘multi-user trail’ reasonable for all ages and abilities. The heath hosts a bridleway available for horses and bikes, therefore paths are often muddy in wetter seasons.
- Volunteer with us
The Friends of Mardley Heath have given hundreds of hours of their time to help look after the nature reserve.
If you have spare time and would like to join them once a month, please contact us.
- How we manage the site
The objectives of management for Mardley particularly focuses on the retention and enhancement of features typical of wood pasture common including heathland glades, coppiced and pollarded trees. The glades are kept clear of vegetation by a mowing regime with selective thinning of trees. We promote a diverse structure and age of our woodland trees by thinning and coppicing areas, which in turn encourages natural regeneration of young saplings.
At all our sites we manage them with a balanced consideration to improve both wildlife biodiversity and public amenity whilst providing a safe and attractive experience for visitors.
All of our major sites have a dedicated ecological management plan which is used to help tailor the management to suit differing landscapes and habitat types.