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Tweseldown - A Legally Protected Site For Wildlife


Tweseldown is a wonderful place for wildlife, as well as for equestrian activity.


Tweseldown is a site that is nationally and internationally important for its rare wildlife and habitats. It is part of Bourley and Long Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA). These sites and their wildlife are legally protected.p>


The acid grassland and heath of Tweseldown are increasingly rare habitats. They support iconic bird species such as nightjar, woodlark and Dartford warbler as well as butterflies such as the silver-studded blue. These species require the heath and grassland to be undisturbed and in as large blocks as possible. Where fragmentation of blocks has occurred some tracks have been blocked off to prevent access, allowing heathland vegetation to recover.


Woodlark and nightjar nest on the ground and are very susceptible to disturbance. For this reason please keep any dogs accompanying you on a lead between 1st March and 31st August, and keep to the main tracks. Birds can then safely raise their young.


In addition to the area of SSSI restraints, there are various MOD and Health & Safety restrictions which are:


a). The MOD have an open access policy in respect of military training areas. It is open to the public when not in use. Right to Roam rules do not apply on MOD land so stopping to picnic is not permitted.


b). When in use, it is not open to the public.


c). The racecourse track is not open to the public as this creates erosion and compaction. Where there are access foot gates, it should be crossed by the shortest route.


d). The centre of the course is open to walkers but with several areas / tracks which are closed at all times.


e). No wheeled access is permitted.


f). Organised or commercial activities [e.g. sports, commercial dog walkers ] are not permitted without permission or licence from Defence Estates.


g). Dog excrement must be collected and taken home - think of a soldier crawling through the brush on an exercise please!! The increasing habit of picking it up in a plastic bag and leaving it is not acceptable and has resulted in the open access policy being threatened in other training areas so please spread the word: it is not a dog toilet !!!