Highbury Wood SSSI - MINIMUM INTERVENTION AREA (002)
Staff member responsible: KATEY STEPHEN
Unit Id: 1013654
Unit area (ha): 18.7157
Unit Status: Live Gridref: SO 538 084
Main habitat: BROADLEAVED, MIXED AND YEW WOODLAND - Lowland
Condition (click for history): Favourable Assessed by: HACKMAN, (PAUL)
Last assessed: 16/05/2014 Last field visit: 01/05/2014
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Date of site check: Last CSM assessment: 16/05/2014
Comment:

HIGHBURY WOOD UNIT 2 (Minimum Invention) ISA VISIT 2014-15

This unit is mostly minimum intervention although it does include sizable areas of managed woodland along its eastern edge and in the southern section (see map). The NVC woodland type map suggests that most of the unit is W8 but significant parts of the accessible areas of the unit are W12 (along the Offas Dyke and the Eastern edge). Additionally, the extreme southern section is shown as W10 but this was not obvious on the ground. There has been no loss of the feature of interest so this attribute is favourable.

Structure and natural processes

The canopy varies between 50 and 90% and is typically ash and cherry with some yew, lime, oak and birch in the W8 areas and typically beech, cherry, yew and lime with some oak in the W12 areas. The understorey varies between 25 and 80% and comprises the above species plus hazel, hawthorn and field maple in the W8 areas, and between 10 and 25% and comprising hazel, holly and wych elm in the W12 areas. Although the W12 understorey/ shrub layer is quite sparse, this is acceptable for a high forest beech woodland where the shade is deep. Open space is not a feature of this unit as most is high forest but coppice areas are present in the southern section and canopy gaps are present occasionally. Temporary open space is close to 10%. The permanent open space (rides and glades) were quite limited. Veteran trees were also quite limited although large yew trees were present throughout. Fallen deadwood was well represented and it appeared that quite a few of the fallen trees were through recent storm damage. Standing deadwood was less apparent but at acceptable levels. Age class diversity was mainly three (due to presence of large yew trees). Most of the unit is minimum intervention but not all of it. This attribute is favourable.

 

Regeneration potential

Saplings and young trees (mainly ash) were present within gaps (mainly the deer exclosures), although most of the regeneration within these areas were shrub species and brambles. All of the minimum intervention area was deer fenced but this area had few canopy gaps to test the regeneration potential. There was no planting. This attribute is favourable.

 

Tree and shrub composition

There were very few non-native species although there were a few sycamore trees (within the understorey) along the Eastern edge of the wood. There were no signs of disease or dieback apart from some minor squirrel damage (including on the sycamore). This attribute is favourable.

 

Quality indicators

The ground flora was typical of both W8 and W12 woodland (although not as rich as Unit 1) with ferns frequent in the darker W12 woodland areas. This attribute is favourable.

 

This assessment has been carried out without reference to the NNR Plan or discussions with the NNR Site Manager (recently left). The unit can be considered as favourable, however levels of standing deadwood could be increased, more permanent open space should be considered, opportunities for tree species within the (bramble and shrub dominated) coppice coupes should be considered and the sycamore along the eastern side of the wood should be monitored and controlled.

Re-unitisation

Highbury Wood SSSI should be considered for re-unitisation, either with the two units exactly matching the minimum intervention and coppice areas respectively or the woodland should be one unit. The land is all within Natural England’s ownership and it is acceptable to have different woodland management techniques within the same unit, so the latter would seem to be the most appropriate.

Number of adverse condition reasons: 2
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