South Dorset Coast SSSI - WEST BOTTOM (011)
Staff member responsible: MATTHEW LOW
Unit Id: 1005446
Unit area (ha): 35.8582
Unit Status: Live Gridref: SY 779 807
Date of last site check: Checked by:
Condition and Comments (click for history): Favourable Assessed by: MELANIE, Natural England ENSIS HEATH
Last assessed: 18/09/2014 Last assessment field visit: 18/09/2014
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Last CSM assessment: 01/10/2014
Estimated year unit will go Favourable: Confidence in estimate:

This assessment is based on the condition of the grassland which could be accessed safely i.e. within 75 m of the northern boundary at the western end of the unit increasing in depth towards the east. For H&S reasons it wasn’t possible to assess the condition of the grassland on the steeper slopes or the cliff top communities and their associated rare plants. However there were no visible adverse impacts on these features and assumed to in favourable condition. There is no fence on the cliff top and stock grazing ceased many years ago (date unknown)

The grassland at West Bottom is unlike any others on the coast. The exposed, steep slopes and thin soils appear to be enough of a constraint on the growth of tor grass to allow less competitive herbs and grasses to flourish. Scrub, which has spread readily elsewhere on the coast, is similarly constrained and having analysed the available evidence I have concluded that at present, the natural environmental conditions at West Bottom are allowing an open sward to persist in the absence of grazing. A rich CG4 community is present across the unit with shorter swards in discrete rabbit grazed pockets covering no more than 10% of the unit. GC4 has abundant taller herbs such as saw-wort; marjoram; wild carrot. Breeding adders and a number of common lizards were also found and the grasslands are suitable for a wide range of butterflies and invertebrates including Lulworth Skipper. Butterfly Conservation monitored Lulworth Skipper numbers in 2012, population here is small and habitat suitable across the unit. The bare sand/chalk invertebrate habitat present on the cliff top at Bat’s Head could not be safely directly assessed but no adverse impact was apparent. It is likely to be a transient community developing on freshly exposed chalk and maintained by exposure, rabbit grazing. Proxy assessment of the short sward invertebrate communities is favourable albeit only sparsely represented across the unit. No adverse impact on the GCR interest was apparent from cliff top views. The beach and drift line are only accessible by boat but no adverse impact on any available drift line substrate was apparent from cliff top views and concluded to be favourable.

Number of adverse condition reasons: 0
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