In 2011, as part of a wider project monitoring different heathland-management approaches, livestock were introduced to Chobham Common, one of the largest remaining heathlands within the Thames Basin Heaths. In this article, Jonathan Cox and Clive Bealey discuss how grazing has impacted heathland vegetation at Chobham Common, and the implication of these results for heathland management in general.
The Thames Basin Heaths form a fragmented arc of lowland heathland patches to the south-west of London. They are the relicts of a once vast heathland landscape extending across the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey. Describing Bagshot Heath, in Surrey, Daniel Defoe (1724–1727) wrote: ‘this desert lies extended so much that some say, there is not less than a hundred thousand acres of this barren land that lies all together, reaching out every way in the three counties of Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.’