Arford Common - also known as Beech Hill Common - is situated on the western end of Beech Hill Road, to the east of Arford and covers approximately 4.5 hectares. It is owned and managed by the Parish Council.
Historically Arford Common was part of an extensive area of open heath, thought to be treeless, rough grazing land. By the 1950s Arford Common, like many other areas of open heath, became well wooded.
In 1988 a survey by the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC) which described the Common as being open pinewood amongst others which were hardwood saplings. The survey reported on the presence of remnant heathland. By 2010 a survey by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust considered that the remnant heathland had decreased further as a result of the increased shading over the years.
The site is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) under the category ‘areas of heathland which are afforested or have succeeded to woodland if they retain significant remnants of heathland vegetation which would enable their recovery’.
Today Arford Common is a mixed semi-natural woodland which is a valued local amenity. In 2010 and 2016 the Parish Council commissioned the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to prepare a Management Plan for Arford Common. The Council has been working towards the objectives set out in the Plan over the years, thanks to the support of small groups of volunteers who met on the Common to carry out various tasks including the removal of the invasive species such as cherry laurel and Holly and the use of Council appointed contractors.
In June 2016 a resident noticed a number of Sweet Chestnut Trees were dying. Upon further investigation it became apparent that upwards of 30 sweet chestnut trees had been deliberately poisoned by drilling a hole at the base of the tree and administering, what we later found out was glyphosate. This news was devastating and had been carried out over a number of years. The Police investigated this deliberate act but closed the case pending any evidence as to whom might have been responsible.
In January 2016 the Parish Council appointed a contractor to fell Scots Pine Trees across the Common to increase the light to the understorey encouraging ground flora growth. A number of number of dead trees including the poisoned Chestnut were felled at the same time.
The Parish Council is now working with residents to manage the woodland up to 2021.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact the Parish Clerk, Katie Knowles at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel. 01428 712132.