Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons and Blanchland Moor SSSI - Steward Shield (026)
Staff member responsible: AMY CHRISTIE
Unit Id: 1028522
Unit area (ha): 884.3772
Unit Status: Live Gridref: NY 976 438
Main habitat: DWARF SHRUB HEATH - Upland
Condition (click for history): Unfavourable - Recovering Assessed by: BAINES, (MIRIAM)
Last assessed: 05/03/2010 Last field visit: 05/03/2010
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Date of site check: Last CSM assessment: 05/03/2010
Comment: This is a very large and extremely diverse unit. The predominant dry heath merges with bog (mostly less than 1m depth of peat) throughout making accurate survey delimitating the two reportable habitats very difficult. There is evidence of suppression from grazing and a lack of species diversity (mostly Calluna vulgaris only found in quadrats.) In some areas shown on the map as under stress, there is a lot of heather left but reluctance of burns to regenerate and the percentage of shoots grazed indicates the heather is under stress. Rabbits are surprisingly common even on the highest areas and this cannot be helping the situation. The higher parts of the unit (around Boltslaw and adjacent to Horseshoe Hill) and the land across Stanhope burn from the farm is generally in good condition. Burns are cool and except for occasional examples have not damaged the underlying peat. Different age stands are well represented and the size and shape of burns are good. The burning of highly grazed areas is evident however which seems to be exacerbating the loss of heather in these areas and the burning of slopes is widespread (eg the highly grazed slopes south of Whitely Rigg adjacent to the Stanhope burn). Blanket bog on this unit generally has a diverse range of species and passes this attribute readily. The main issue affecting the bogs on this unit is drainage. This survey and former ones have revealed a good population of adders on this unit. An HLS agreement has now been signed to address the issues identified therefore the unit is assessed as unfavourable recovering.
Number of adverse condition reasons: 2
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