New Forest Northern Commons - Foxbury

The lily pond at Foxbury in the New Forest, Hampshire

Our 150 hectare heathland restoration project on the edge of the New Forest: an blooming landscape of yellow flowering gorse, purple heathers, flourishing orchids and foxgloves, and blossoming trees in their infancy, all braided with miles of gravel trackways. Join our rangers at the basecamp to learn about Forest wildlife, or hire the site for recreational purposes.

Inheriting Foxbury

Foxbury went through extensive timber extraction as its ownership changed hands. The site was inherited as a vast area of undulating landscape; of remnant seed bed; of areas of retained birch and pine; and of the once dense understorey of Rhododendron.
 
Today we are half way through our initial funding and the changes continue year on year. Stands of birch and pine remain; rhododendron clearance is at 90%; natural regeneration of the seed bed and heather is already underway and the wildlife we would expect to see is slowly returning.

 

Galloway cattle

We graze Foxbury’s open areas of heathland restoration with a herd of belted Galloways. The cattle help keep the encroaching scrub and grasses at bay, and also trample thick bracken stands, in order to allow the developing heather to establish. Our rangers and volunteers undertake seasonal management such as Rhododendron and birch removal, bracken herbicide application and hedge cutting.
Belted Galloways resting
Belted Galloway cattle grazing in the New Forest, Hampshire

Woodland management

As well as lowland heathland, we are also re-establishing native broadleaf woodland at Foxbury. This Winter our volunteers planted 3500 English oak, sweet chestnut and common alder saplings, the first year of a 5 year project which will see us plant up 26 hectares of Foxbury with around 20,000 trees.

 

Butterfly transect

Last spring we set up a butterfly transect running from Half Moon common into Foxbury. We recorded an array of species over the spring and summer, and as our heather communities develop over the coming years, we hope to see an influx of Silver-Studded Blue butterflies (our specialist heathland species). The transect has been laid out to take in a selection of developing habitats: open heathland, woodland edges and woodland rides.
Dark Green Fritillary butterfly in the New Forest
Dark Green Fritillary butterfly

Volunteers

With the help of volunteers from Hampshire Ornithological Society, we undertook a Nightjar survey during the Summer, looking for churring males. We have a healthy population of breeding Nightjars in Foxbury, the birds having begun to use the site since the clearance of commercial conifer post-2006. We will continue monitoring them this year.
 
Recreational access to Foxbury is by invitation only. Have a look at our events and volunteering pages to find out what’s going on.