The magnificent Briddlesford Woods is the largest remaining ancient semi-natural woodland on the Isle of Wight with some very special residents.
For over 20 years we've been preserving and enhancing this wildlife haven thanks to donations from our supporters and a number of grants.
Briddlesford is one of the few places in the UK where endangered dormice and red squirrels can both be found. Two species of rare bat, barbastelles and Bechstein’s, also breed there. Consequently the woodlands have been designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation. This gives it the highest legal protection.
The site is also of interest for its insect and plant life. One of the most important features of the woodland plant life is the abundance of narrow-leaved lungwort. This species is restricted in Britain to ancient woodlands on the shores and tributaries of the Solent.
The presence of these rare animals and plants in our woods is a combination that’s unique within the UK. It therefore needs constant care and protection. Can you support us to make this happen?
“It was encouraging to see how well flooded most of the ponds were at the start of the season, needless to say it was a different story in the latter half of the summer”.
Each pond is different and has varying amounts of vegetation, different water levels and therefore attracts different species of dragonfly. A total of 13 species were spotted at Briddlesford this summer and one pond had an amazing 10 species. The photograph to the right is of a female black-talked skimmer. They like open water with bare patches on the shore. We plan to do a small amount of vegetation clearance at some of the ponds next year to make sure they are still suitable for a range of species with differing requirements.
You can visit this special place year round. Briddlesford Parkland – 10 hectares of peaceful wood pasture, and Hurst Copse – five hectares of beautiful ancient woodland, near Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight are open for you to explore.
Please email email@example.com if you would like more details to help you plan and make the most of a visit.
There are occasionally opportunities to join one of our guided walks around Briddlesford or longer training courses. Details of all our public events can be found in our events section.
Why not combine a visit to Briddlesford Woods with a trip on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway? From the train you can see the surrounding beautiful countryside from a different angle. The railway line actually passes through Briddlesford Copse, which is also owned and looked after by us.
If you live locally or visit the Isle of Wight regularly and you would like to volunteer your time at our reserve please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. There are opportunities to take part in dormouse monitoring and practical management such as coppicing and tree planting.
Over the last 20 years we’ve been working to improving the woodland for wildlife. This takes a lot of hard work and funds from our generous supporters and grant givers.
We’ve established long-rotation (15-20 years) hazel coppice to ensure a steady supply of hazelnuts for the red squirrels and dormice to eat. We also maintain a network of rides (essentially paths through the woodland) and glades to allow light to reach the woodland floor benefitting wild flowers, butterflies and other invertebrates.
Almost 15 years ago now we planted over 5,000 native trees grown from seed collected in Briddlesford and we’ve been actively encouraging natural regeneration of native trees in the surrounding copses into grassland areas.
There are areas of non-intervention within the woodland where we’ve allowed a high forest structure to develop. This habitat is of considerable conservation value and adds another dimension to this diverse woodland. We retain plenty of dead and decaying wood wherever possible to encourage insects and fungi.
Interspersed between the copses, we manage 30 hectares of wildflower rich grassland and we have reverted 6 hectares of arable back to grassland. These areas are grazed by a neighbouring farmer’s cattle. Within this grassland we have also sown just over a hectare of nectar rich plants, carefully selected to provide food for insects.
We have dug 14 ponds to add value to the grassland areas. These create areas for bats to feed, for dragonflies and amphibians to breed and for birds and mammals to drink or bathe. Cattle use the ponds to drink from and as they do so they ‘puddle’ the edges so that the pond retains water for longer.
Ourselves and a host of experts regularly monitor the array of special species that live in our woods. This helps us assess the impact of our land management and make further improvements. It also helps us to keep the land protected for years to come.