Two hundred and thirty one acres of land at Passfield and Conford was given to the National Trust in 1948 as a bequest from Dr Arnold Lyndon, who had been the treasurer of the original Committee formed in 1906 to acquire Ludshott Common for the National Trust.This bequest included Conford Moor, and the ecologically important Conford Bog.
The Bog is a rare habitat situated at the geological junction of the Bargate Beds and the Folkestone Beds, which form part of the Lower Greensand rocks of the area. Bargate is a sandy limestone (used for building) which is alkaline, and lies beneath the Folkestone, which is a soft acidic sand often stained brown or yellow by iron oxides. Because of the spring line between these two rock types which outcrop on the hillside, alkaline rather than acidic water (which is normal in this area) feeds the Bog. The result is the occurrence of an unusual range of plants and insects, and because of this the management was initially handed over to the Hants & IOW Naturalists Trust, but was returned to the Committee in 1985.
Southern Marsh Orchid
By the the mid 1980's, there was increasing concern that the land was gradually drying out, and contact was made with the Thames Water Authority and the Army to enquire whether they had increased water extraction in the area. On receiving negative responses, a conference was held on site in March 1986 with all the interested parties, including the Nature Conservancy Council, which concluded that the problem was caused by the increased growth of vegetation and trees. This was due to the Commoners ceasing to exercise their Rights to graze cattle and collect fallen timber.
The Committee therefore embarked on a programme of scrub and tree clearance, assisted by a plan settled with the NCC and the Hampshire Heathland Project in 1986, and a 5-year Management Plan agreed with the Countryside Commission in 1994, both including financial support. Scots pines had been planted on the hillside in 1968 as a long-term investment, but after the collapse of the timber market, it was decided in 1998, to cut these down to reduce their impact on the water levels. All this work proved quite successful, as the Bog became wetter than it was in 1986. But it is very labour intensive and weather dependent to maintain the wettest areas, and rare species have been lost since then.
To bring the habitat back to 'favourable condition' a Higher Level Stewardship agreement with DEFRA has provided grant aid and in the winter of 2012/13 much of the overgrown areas in the Bog and on the Moor have been cleared and volunteer help has continued in 2013 and 2014 with the hand clearance necessary in places where machinery cannot access.
Parts of Conford Moor therefore are returning much more to their original open character which had been maintained for centuries by Commoners grazing their animals. It would have been like a mini New Forest.
Commoners still exist, and recent changes in the structure of farm subsidies may mean it could become economic for commoners to again exercise their Rights.
Conford Moor was first notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in June 1984. It was included in the Woolmer Forest SSSI area in 1993 and also in the Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area for Wild Birds in 1998. For events and latest news visit other website pages.