Little Wittenham Wood
If you’re visiting the Wittenham Clumps, don’t forget to explore the neighbouring Little Wittenham Wood, one of Europe’s most important sites for wildlife. All dappled sunlight and wide, open rides, it’s alive with wildlife and the perfect place for a relaxing stroll or a peaceful picnic. There are also plenty of opportunities for den building!
What to see
Little Wittenham Wood has been designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), reflecting its international importance for wildlife. The nature reserve is particularly important for the great crested newt. This shy amphibian uses the many ponds on the nature reserve to breed but it spends the majority of time in the surrounding woodland. You will also see plenty of dragonflies and damselflies around the ponds and if you wander down to the bird hide by the Thames you might be lucky enough to spot kingfishers or otters.
There is, of course, plenty of woodland wildlife to see as well! From spring bluebells to autumnal fungi there is always something new to discover. Protected species such as the firecrest and red kite have also been known to breed within the wood.
Earth Trust acquired Little Wittenham Wood in 1982 and it was always the intention that it would be managed for the benefit of both people and wildlife – a place for everyone to enjoy the countryside for free.
Earth Trust manages Little Wittenham Wood in a way that encourages predominantly broadleaved trees with some conifers throughout. Timber extracted is used in our boiler to heat the Earth Trust Centre. Part of the management includes coppicing, which involves cutting species such as hazel and spindle to their base in the winter time. This traditional management technique helps create a diverse structure to the woodland habitat as well as producing materials used in hedgelaying and hurdle making.
Each year sections of the rides are coppiced in winter. This helps to create open sunny glades within the wood and provides perfect habitats for butterflies, other invertebrates and many woodland birds.
Our volunteers are often helping us in the woods, find out more about how you can join them.
River of Life ll
As part of our River of Life ll wetland creation project work is currently under way to excavate a number of new breeding ponds for great crested newts in Little Wittenham Wood. Find our more about the project.