Sheen Common Woodland

 

East Sheen Common Woodland is recent secondary oak/birch woodland of approximately 21 hectares on acid sands and gravels. This includes at the eastern end, the amenity area with tennis courts, bowling green, cricket and football pitches.

East Sheen Common supports a diverse range of flora and fauna, many species of which have been selected as key habitats and species in the Richmond Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP). The common used to be heath/acid grassland but since the cessation of grazing in 1898 has developed into the secondary woodland you see today with very few remnants of the heather and acid grassland.

The site is now an area of national importance (Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation) as broad leaved woodland is a declining habitat nationally and one which has significance locally. The woodland supports a wide range of woodland birds, butterflies and mammals, several of which are scheduled species, and forms an important extension to Richmond Park. The Common is owned by the National Trust but it is managed by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Council.

The woodland is predominantly Pedunculate (English) Oak with frequent Ash, Sycamore, Beech, Elder, Rowan, Cherry, Yew and Silver Birch. There are also several large London Planes.  The understorey has in most areas become dominated by Holly, but there is also much Bramble, Raspberry and some Hawthorn, Gorse and Honeysuckle.

There is a small seasonal pond on the east side, close to the gardens of the houses on Sheen Common Drive, which supports Frogs and Toads as well as a variety of other aquatic species. During the winter months when it is full of water it is used regularly by wild ducks including Mallards and Mandarin Ducks.  The pond is fed by a system of ditches which run down the Common carrying rainwater run-off from Richmond Park to the south.

Key wildlife species include Bats, Song Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stag Beetle and Tanner Beetle, but these represent only a small proportion of the rich variety of wildlife to be found here. The Song Thrush is a Red Listed Species, considered to be in serious decline and warranting special protection.  More information can be found under the ‘Wildlife’ section.