Northwood Hills Residents Association

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The Hogsback Open Space - Management Plan


The Hogsback Open Space forms part of a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, Borough Grade II. This means that there would be a significant loss to the borough, in biodiversity, were this site to be lost.

This site is set on a hillside with amenity grassland at the base, and dense woodland partially encircling an area of grassland and scrub at the top. The woodland is dominated by

Pedunculate oak (
Quercus robur), Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) bramble (Rubus fructicosus agg.) and common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Honeysuckle (Londicera periclymenum) is abundant. Common nettle (Utica dioca) and dog rose (Rosa canina) grow in the words, along with wood avens (Geum urbanum) and rose bay willow herb (Chamerion augustifolium). There are narrow paths throughout the dense woodland but in spite of the high usage of the site by the public, much of the woodlands is likely to offer relatively low –disturbance habitats of use to birds and mammals. Nectar-feeding insects are abundant on brambles in sunny but sheltered situations. The grassland area at the top of this hill has a variety of trees, willow - herb, rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) and naturalised orange ball tree (Buddleja globosa). It is difficult to assess the quality this areas of grassland due to unsympathetic and damaging grass cutting, resulting in large areas of virtually bare soil and thick deposits of un collected cutting sin mid-season. The status of this site (Site of Borough Importance Grade II) is largely due to the high quality of the grassland flora in this area.

The most abundant of these habitats is grassland, although most of this is currently fairly poor. This means that as habitats are created or improved by management, new species will be able to colonise them quicker than would otherwise be the case.

Vegetation communities & flora

The following principal habitats can be recognized within the site, as follows:

  • Semi-improved grassland

  • Tussocky grassland trees

  • Woodland

  • Scrub

  • Hedgerow

  • Mature trees

Existing site features

Hoggsback as existing

5 year Management Actions and Maintenance Plan

The objective of this management plan is to ensure that the openness of the site remains and to restore grassland to a species rich sward consisting of various types of meadow grasses and also of Wildflower species associated with meadows.

To achieve this a number of management objectives will need to be achieved for each type of habitat onsite.

Grassland: Adjust the cutting regime of the amenity grass to allow a longer sward length to ensure that no bare areas are created. At least a 1m margin to be left uncut, adjacent to the woodland and hedgerow margins to allow a graduated profile to establish and also leaving a buffer zone for wildlife. Allowing an area of grassland is left uncut to grow as a hay meadow, which would then be cut and cleared from the site will enable any wildflowers within the seed bank of the soil to grow and eventually establish. All cuttings must be removed to ensure that the soil does not receive any further nutrient enrichment from the grass cuttings which are left on site.

Woodlands: The woodlands to be thinned out by the removal of invasive species such as Sycamore; Laurel; hawthorn and blackthorn scrub. This will allow the understorey to develop and shrubs such as Holly and Hazel to establish. Woodland glades are to be created by clearing patches of hawthorn scrub, which will enable woodland flowering species to establish.

Hedgerow: The hawthorn hedgerow, which follows the western boundary adjacent to Northwood way, should be left to grow to a height of at least 2.5 m allowing a decent height for the hedge to be laid. This will ultimately extend the life of the hedge but will also add biodiversity value to the site and also improve the site aesthetically.

Mature Oaks:
Removal of bramble from underneath these free-standing oaks, which are dotted around the site. This will enable grass to re-grow underneath and to allow tree surveys to be carried out easier by enabling the trunks to be free from dense brambles allowing any decay or fungal diseases to be identified.

Removal of the Blackthorn and Hawthorn scrub, which has encroached the edges of the woodland and grassland areas. This should be done in sections so that it does not too intrusive on the site. Re-growth may occur so stumps to be treated with glyphosate. This should be done on a rotational basis so as to reduce the impact on the biodiversity and to ensure that re-colonisation does not occur. Some scrub should remain to ensure that the habitat profile is graduated, but also because it provides a valuable habitat for birds and small mammals by providing nesting sites and also food during the autumn in the form of berries.

A large proportion of the site has been overtaken by scrub and bramble. The bramble should be managed by removing one third of that on site annually. This will ensure that existing grassland remains and that areas already lost to bramble is reclaimed. Some areas of bramble should be left as habitat and food source for birds and other small mammals, but this should be managed on a yearly programme to inhibit encroachment. This should be done on a rotational basis so as to reduce the impact on the biodiversity and to ensure that re-colonisation does not occur. Some brambles should be retained, but well managed as this provides and excellent habitat for both birds and small mammals. It also provides habitat for reptiles such as Slow worms which may be onsite. This not only provides nesting sites for birds but also food source in the form of berries.

Planned improvement works

Hogsback planned works

In January 2012 a number residents living in the catchment area of the Hog's Back met and decided to form a Friend of The Hog's Back group” to work with Officers from Hillingdon Council to protect the natural beauty of the land and assist with the day to day management required to ensure its longevity for future generations. Membership of the group is open to anyone.


After sixteen years as Honorary Treasurer of the Ruislip Woods Trust, John Rayner has decided to retire in the near future.
The Trustees are looking for a successor to John, with a view to there being an overlap before John retires. The role is not onerous, involves five or six evening meetings a year and all expenses are paid.

If you wish to be considered please contact the Chairman of the Trustees, David Duncan, on 01923 824 917 or

Ruislip Woods Trust, is a charitable trust set up by five local residents’ associations to develop the educational, monitoring and survey aspects of Ruislip Woods – all designed to ensure that the local community and users of the Woods know about the Woods, understand what changes are occurring (both natural and man-made) and provide accurate information to preserve the quality of the habitat. Ruislip Woods constitutes the largest single area of woodland in Greater London. Over 175,000 visitors a year enjoy its 305 hectares and 21 miles of footpaths. In 1997 it became London’s First National Nature Reserve and in 2006 was awarded Green Flag and Green Heritage Status.

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