Wytham Woods form an iconic location that has been the subject of continuous ecological research programmes, many dating back to the 1940s. The estate has been owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942. The Woods are often quoted as being one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world, and their 1000 acres are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The wooded parts of the Wytham Estate comprise ancient semi-natural woodland (dating to the last Ice Age), secondary woodland (dating to the seventeenth century), and modern plantations (1950s and 60s). 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 site is exceptionally rich in flora and fauna, with over 500 species of plants, a wealth of woodland habitats, and 800 species of butterflies and moths.