Address: RSPB, Unit 10, Sham Farm Business Units, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 9JA
Contact: 01892 752430
Set in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Beauty near to Royal Tunbridge Wells, big changes have been happening at Broadwater Warren.
When the RSPB took over the reserve in 2007, it was a large conifer plantation with just a few remnants of heathland surviving. The vast majority of major restoration works have already taken place as part of our ten year project to restore the historic open landscape of the Weald and improve the surrounding woodland for wildlife.
We have already recreated 65 hectares of open heathland by removing conifer plantations, with another 12 hectares to be restored over the next two years. Thinning out some of the conifers that were planted in areas of semi-natural ancient woodland has allowed native trees to flourish. By allowing light into our woods, native plants, shrubs and wildlife can thrive again.
The heathland and woodland restoration will return the Broadwater to its historic habitat of centuries ago, a wildlife-rich mosaic of heathland and native woodland with scrubby woodland margins, scattered stands of pines and rare woodland mire.
Lowland heath is now a rarer habitat than rainforest after almost 80 per cent of the UK’s heathland has disappeared since the 1800s due to forestry, agriculture and urban development. Our work here is a vital link in the south east, connecting other areas of heathland by restoring a lost landscape and reviving the traditional land management that originally shaped it.
Threatened bird species like woodlark and nightjar have returned to the site, along with adders, bumblebees and butterflies, and new views across the landscape have been opened up. The pond is now a haven for dragonflies and frogs, visited by a kingfisher and heron, and the woodlands are being managed for vulnerable species like marsh tit and dormouse.
Open all-year round with pedestrian access at all times. The car park is open from 7 am to 7 pm or dusk – whichever is earlier.
Please check out our reserve webpages for details of events and to see recent photos:
Access: The reserve is open all year round and entry is free. The RSPB opened a small woodland car park in 2009 to stop visitors having to park on the verge – it is open usually from about 7am until dusk.
Nature trails: People can pick up a free trail guide and follow marked nature trails through this quiet and peaceful site The RSPB describe it not as a place of big “bird spectacles” but as somewhere to enjoy bird song, rare habitats and being away from it all.
Improvements so far: Already the RSPB has restored the Decoy Pond, whose dam was broken, and have built boardwalks across the wettest sections of path and into the area of wet woodland where Greater Tussock Sedges grow a metre high.
Habitat restoration: The first phase of habitat restoration began in the winter 2009-10, with the clearance of an area of self-sown conifer trees. The RSPB is at pains to prepare people that this kind of restoration looks very raw to start with. It takes a couple of years for the original vegetation, buried as seeds in the soil, to begin to flourish again.
Future plans: As the heathland is restored, it will be divided into several large fenced blocks, where small numbers of livestock will be used to maintain the habitats, as in years gone by. Access will be maintained through these areas.
There will be path improvements, including an all-user section of path to get less-able visitors into the heathland. The RSPB plan to create a heritage trail in the next year to help visitors understand some of the rich history of the site.
Dog walking: The RSPB welcomes responsible dog owners. Dogs should be under close control and on the paths at all times, both to preserve the wildlife which includes several species of rare ground nesting birds, and for the benefit of visitors who may be nervous of dogs. Please clear up after your dog – dog bins are due to be provided at the entrance.
Conditions underfoot: This is the Wealden Forest Ridge – it gets muddy! Most paths are flat or gently sloping, but there are a few fairly steep slopes.
As a charity, the RSPB depends on the goodwill and financial support of people like you. Please visit www.rspb.org.uk/supporting or call 01767 680551 to find out more.
If you have any questions or comments about the reserve, the RSPB welcomes your feedback.