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Geomorphologically the Forest comprises a series of eroded terraces capped with flint gravel, brickearth and other superficial deposits. The terraces are highest and most fragmented by erosion in the north of the Forest and lowest and most complete in the south. Erosion has exposed the underlying Tertiary strata in wide valleys and hollows separating the terraces. These soils are mainly acid, poor in nutrients and susceptible to leaching. The nutrient enriched clay marls in the southerly Headon Beds support relatively species-rich grassland or mire floras. The Forest is drained by a fine network of small streams with abundant wet flushes along slope springlines. The woodlands in particular possess a humid microclimate which is important in supporting epiphytic lichens, bryophytes and ferns.
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