A charity set up to manage the University conservation area in Chilworth
The University Conservation Area was established in Chilworth in 1989 by the University of Southampton. The area has considerable ecological importance, containing ancient and secondary woodland, acid grassland, a meadow and a formal Arboretum. Each of these supports unique plant and animal life and consequently most of the area is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).
The area is used for teaching and research purposes, and (permissive) access for visitors is also allowed. Some of the grounds are leased to Chilworth Manor Hotel.
Buxey Wood, the ecology meadow and the Arboretum are all significant features of the Chilworth Manor Estate but they had been badly neglected until a few years ago. A small group of local residents and volunteers from the University has been working to conserve and restore the area. Local contacts are used to advise on specialist matters such as grassland management, tree safety and the identification and care of protected species. Test Valley Borough Council and the Forestry Commission are consulted on tree matters, as the woodland has been subject to an area Tree Preservation Order.
Chilworth Conservation Area is now managed by a company with charitable status: Chilworth Conservation Limited. This enables the educational and recreational functions of the site to be retained with minimal disturbance to its unique habitats and rare species.