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Ham Street Woods is part of the larger Orlestone Forest, a fragmented area of woodland that is the remnant of a continuous oak forest that once covered the Weald.
As well as being one of the first National Nature Reserves to be designated in 1952, Ham Street Woods is nationally designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it includes a series of broadleaved woodlands supporting outstanding bird and invertebrate communities.
Ham Street Woods is home to rare moths (such as the triangle and silky wave moths), and butterflies (such as the White Admiral); breeding birds, including rare ones such as the nightingale and hawfinch; and also to 2 protected species: the great crested newt and the dormouse.