About it - Underhill Wood Nature Reserve: 

I have been running and developing a privately funded nature reserve near East Knoyle, Wiltshire since 2014.

The reserve has the following key aims:

(1) to establish a range of complementary habitats

(2) to engage with ecologists and naturalists to use the site for surveys and study

(3) to become an educational resource for children and young people.

I have worked to create and establish a range of habitats. I have gained significant and valuable input from various charities - the main contributors have been: 

  • Butterfly Conservation
  • Barn Owl Trust
  • Dragonfly Society
  • Wiltshire Mammal Group - which has included the Wiltshire Bat Group

Click on the website links to read about specific habitats, which have been created - for example, the pond for dragonflies, glades for butterflies & moths, and a 2 acre field for barn owls.

As well as developing these specific habitats, there are endemic species at Underhill Wood - for example, bats, badgers, wrens, hare. I haven't deliberately intervened to create habitat for these species, rather enhance and conserve what is already there.

About me - Jonathan Thomson

I grew up on a small dairy farm in rural New Zealand, close to both the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Wildlife, and more generally the outdoors, both terrestrial and marine, featured significantly throughout my young life.  Even in my youth I had a sense that flora and fauna needed protecting and conserving - I was active in ‘Project Jonah’ as a 16 year old.

I had always wanted to farm and was obsessed with dairy farming, but a rugby induced back injury threw me into a different orbit.  I have been a primary school teacher, in a remote part of NZ; a Cordon Bleu chef in Sydney; a commercial fisherman in Ireland; and then retrained in London to become an organizational psychologist. 

After working in the corporate sector for 20 years - coaching, facilitating, running workshops on topics ranging from strategy to conflict resolution, I wanted to return to my original passion of protecting our natural world, which is being assaulted by multiple threats .  I felt the best way for me to “do something” was to actually “do something.”   With my wife, the writer, Keggie Carew, we bought a parcel of land half an hour from where we live.   Underhill Wood Nature Reserve is for barn owls, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, foxes, various bird species, hare and badgers, and for young people to learn more about nature and reconnect with it.