Broadmoor to Bagshot Woods and Heaths SSSI - MOD SURREY SOUTH EAST (005)
Staff member responsible: DES SUSSEX
Unit Id: 1002544
Unit area (ha): 91.7123
Unit Status: Live Gridref: SU 883 623
Main habitat: DWARF SHRUB HEATH - Lowland
Condition and Comments (click for history): Favourable Assessed by: SUSSEX, (DES)
Last assessed: 16/02/2018 Last assessment field visit: 15/02/2018
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Date of last site check: Last CSM assessment: 15/02/2018
Estimated year unit will go Favourable: Confidence in estimate:
Comment:

The unit includes significant areas of open dry heath land with well-established stands of mixed woodland. The unit has an interesting and varied topography, providing a diversity of microhabitats of potentially high value to invertebrates and reptiles. Since the last assessment there has been continued summer cattle grazing, and significant clearance of invasive scrub from the open habitats. There have been occasional Spring and Summer wildfires.

The key objectives for this unit are to maintain the open dry heath habitats in good condition for the associated heath land bird assemblage. All targets are now being met, and the unit is used by the breeding bird assemblage, and is now in favourable condition.

The extent of heathland has been maintained and slightly increased, with approximately 60ha of open habitat and 30 ha of dry woodland. The woodland is not assessed as part of the SSSI condition assessment.

The dry heathland stands are generally dominated by ling (mostly 30-60% cover), with bell heather widely present (occasional to frequent) at lower cover levels of less than 5-10%. Purple-moor grass is frequent in the dry heath, generally at acceptable levels of between 10 and 30%. There is some localised accumulation of grass and bracken litter but well within acceptable levels.

Other forbs present at fairly low cover levels include sheep’s sorrel, tormentil, heath bedstraw, heath speedwell and cat’s-ear, most of which are occasional or locally frequent. Fine grasses such as wavy hair grass (locally abundant), heath grass, mat grass and bristle bent are occasional to locally frequent across the unit. There is a modest selection of Cladonia lichens present at low cover levels scattered widely amongst the heathers.

The structure of the dwarf shrubs is sufficiently varied to meet the targets, with most stands having a mosaic of heather heights. Mature heather generally makes up about 60+% in each stand, with pioneer/building growth generally between 10-30%. There are small amounts of old and degenerate patches of leggy woody heather (<5%). Across the various heath land blocks there is a diversity of height and age classes, some of the pioneer growth resulting from fires, as well as from heather management and grazing. Silver-studded blue butterfly was recorded in small numbers at a number of locations across the unit - this species depends on the pioneer growth. The vegetation along the pylon line is mown annually giving a uniform short sward of heathers and grasses, away from here the pioneer growth is able to grow on and develop into taller bushes. The short vegetation along the pylon line provides suitable woodlark foraging habitat, and will be of high value to invertebrates such as the grayling butterfly.

There is a good scattering of common gorse, mostly of a dense structure of high value to nesting birds. Dwarf gorse is frequently found in small amounts across the dry heath. Levels of invasive pine scrub are now at acceptable levels having been significantly reduced (from over 30%) by active management in the last few years. In most of the dry heath stands scrub is now less than 1%, whilst in a couple of localised areas there is a higher cover of up to 40% of scrub pine – at present this provides useful additional habitat diversity. Overall scrub across the unit is estimated at less than 5%, and well within targets.

An important habitat feature is the bare sandy ground which is scattered across the unit as both small and larger patches, with approximately 3-5% cover. It is present as a consequence of vegetation management as well as due to natural processes. Some bare sand patches at erosion gullies, microcliffs, path edges, and on steeper ground are of high value to specialist invertebrates, such as solitary bees and wasps and lots of burrows were noted. There has been a welcome increase in bare ground habitat since the last assessment, in part due to the the machinery used for scrub removal.

Bracken is present as scattered fronds and clumps on the heath, where it forms part of the habitat mosaic. There are some larger closed canopy stands where it is dominant and a risk to adjacent vegetation, but these are not currently considered to be at damaging levels. Across the unit it is estimated at about 5% cover.

There are no signs of any invasive non-native species that might pose a risk to the habitats, although the occasional rhododendron bush is present in the woods.

The area has value as a breeding habitat for the SPA Birds (Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark), and there are areas of habitat that meets the requirements of all 3 species. All 3 species have been annually recorded in modest numbers (between 1-4 territories of each species) in the last few surveys. The unit has the capacity to support additional territories. In addition species like tree pipit and stonechat frequent the area. Recreational disturbance is an ongoing risk to the productivity of the heath land birds, but active visitor management strategies are in place through the TBH partnership SAMM project.

Bird data was kindly provided by 2J’s Ecology.

Number of adverse condition reasons: 0
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