Overview: Habitats & Wildlife
These steep downland slopes are a in a busy part of the County, but are left largely untouched by the traffic, lying as they do between several main roads and cut through by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. It is their steep, relatively harsh nature that has meant that much wildlife survives. The steep slopes would not be ideal for ploughing, meaning that much is left as woodland and the soil is poor and thin. Indeed it is the thin, nutrient poor soil that encourages a rich diversity of chalk-downland plants to co-exist here.
The mixed broadleaved woodland across the site is relatively natural in form compared to many in the Downs. It has been many decades since there was much management of the woods, and whilst the area is benefitting from some new glade creation, where man orchids and fly orchids can be found, there is a feeling of wildness and some lovely veteran oak trees on these wind-blown slopes.
Meanwhile, whilst the dense cover of chalk-loving yew trees supports far fewer plants and animals than some of the other habitats, it is a rare habitat-type on the European scale, hence affording the site its protection as a ‘Special Area of Conservation’.