South Dorset Coast SSSI - THE WARREN (012)
Staff member responsible: MATTHEW LOW
Unit Id: 1005452
Unit area (ha): 60.302
Unit Status: Live Gridref: SY 794 806
Main habitat: NEUTRAL GRASSLAND - Lowland
Date of last site check: Checked by:
Condition and Comments (click for history): Favourable Assessed by: MELANIE, Natural England ENSIS HEATH
Last assessed: 23/09/2014 Last assessment field visit: 23/09/2014
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Last CSM assessment: 23/09/2014
Estimated year unit will go Favourable: Confidence in estimate:

This unit remains in excellent condition with a rich and diverse CG4 community on the steeper chalk slopes with no loss of extent. Species recorded in 2009 are present and the sward has a good structure within the fenced fields with a patchy mosaic of shorter turf (1-8 cm) interspersed with taller (to 40cm) tor grass tussocks. Sward structure is suitable in known early gentian localities and a number of desiccated gentian stems were found, most likely autumn gentian rather than early gentian. Semi-improved mesotrophic swards in the valley floor are free of weeds and also well grazed. Free draining sandy soils at the top of the slopes support ‘chalk heath’ NVC tbc ?H4/U4 surviving amongst a dense stand of mature common gorse and bramble. Bell heather, western gorse and harebell were in flower at the time of the survey. Chalk heath is a rare on the coast and it would be really beneficial to facilitate some restorative grazing by reducing and breaking up this area of gorse to give the cattle greater access to the grassland. Younger, more dispersed gorse is present on the highest eastern slopes and this will need to be regularly cut outwith the early gentian season minimise further spread.

The sward on the seaward side of the fence is only rabbit grazed and rank with a heavily used and trampled coast path which is increasingly squeezed as the cliff erodes. Tall sward structure here is suitable for Lulworth Skipper. (Taller swards within the grazed fields may also be suitable). CG1 and 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 and trampling. The Vascular plant assemblage occurs mostly on the cliff top where plants such as Limonium dodartiforme and Pilosella peleteriana are restricted to small fragile ledges and cliff top coastal grassland. This community is threatened by heavy trampling as the coast path is restricted to a narrowing route by natural erosion. No adverse impact on the GCR interest or vegetated sea cliffs 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. The ‘indicators of success’ set out in the ELS/HLS agreement are also being met and the grassland management is continuing to protect the archaeology.

Number of adverse condition reasons: 0
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