Important habitats and species

Ancient woodland

There is a relatively small amount of woodland in Ealing with Perivale Wood and Horsenden Wood being the only surviving fragments of ancient woodland. Ancient woodland is defined as pre-dating the 1600's and due to the time it takes to establish, it houses many rare invertebrates which are reliant on this type of habitat.

Two butterflies found at Horsenden Hill are white letter hairstreak whose caterpillars fed on the young elm sucker growth and purple hairstreaks can be seen floating around the tops of the oak trees on bright sunny summer days.  Several tree indicator species found in the southeast of England are wild service tree, midland hawthorn and wood millet. 

Perivale Wood is managed by the Selbourne Society and is thought to be the first established nature reserve. To gain access to the reserve you need to be a member of the society.  Please contact the Selbourne Society regarding access and membership.

Unimproved grassland

The term 'unimproved' refers to grassland that has not been agriculturally improved. Various methods of improvement include draining, ploughing or applying chemicals and it is thought that over the past 45 years unimproved meadows and pastures rich in species have been the greatest lost type of habitat.

Islip Manor Meadows, Horsenden Hill and Yeading Brook meadows are good examples of this habitat.  These meadows are diverse with ragged robin, ox eye daisy, field scabious, pepper saxifrage and agrimony flowers species and there are many associated invertebrates that enjoy their sweet nectar through out the summer months.

Open water

The River Brent dissects the borough in two and acts as the boundary for the west and east ranger teams. The river acts as a wildlife corridor for species like kingfishers and bats to travel up and down gaining access to habitats situated along its banks. Keep an eye out for piles of chewed grass and latrines as water voles nest in riverbanks with signs of their activity being found in the Brent River Park.

Ponds are a fragile habitat and can revert back to dry land very easily through the process of succession. It is vital that ponds are managed to control this process as this habitat provides vital breeding grounds for the protected great crested newt and supports a variety of dragonfly and damselfly species. Reed beds not only filter pollution out of the water and provide valuable flood protection but also support species of birds such as sedge and reed warblers and reed buntings.