Wytham Woods is an ancient semi-natural woodland, which has been owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942. Its 1000 acres are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and are one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world, exceptionally rich in flora and fauna, with over 500 species of plants, a wealth of woodland habitats, and 800 species of butterflies and moths.
The Woods can be divided into four main habitats. The forested area is a simple three-way split between ancient semi-natural woodland, secondary woodland and modern plantations. The fourth key habitat is the limestone grassland found at the top of the hill. Other smaller habitats include a valley-side mire and a series of ponds. The ancient woods date back to the last Ice Age, while the secondary woodland dates to the seventeenth century and the plantations to the 1950s and 1960s.