Lower Wye Gorge SSSI - BAN-Y-GOR WOOD (GWT RESERVE) (001)
Staff member responsible: JULIET HYNES
Unit Id: 1013459
Unit area (ha): 40.2152
Unit Status: Live Gridref: ST 542 971
Main habitat: BROADLEAVED, MIXED AND YEW WOODLAND - Lowland
Condition (click for history): Favourable Assessed by: HACKMAN, (JO)
Last assessed: 11/05/2014 Last field visit: 02/05/2014
ISA Survey: View Surveys
Date of site check: Last CSM assessment: 11/05/2014
Condition assessment comment:

This ISA visit was made on 2nd May 2014 by Jo Hackman, Peter Holmes, Paul Hackman and Juliet Hynes (Natural England). Accompanied by Kevin Caster of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

 

Ban-y-gor consists of a dense canopy of mature and younger standards. Oak Quercus sp, Ash Fraxinus excelsior, Beech Fagus sylvatica and Lime Tilia sp. are frequent mature trees with some of these having been coppiced in the past. Smaller amounts of Silver birch Betula pendula, Wych elm Ulmus glabra, Field maple Acer campestre and Yew Taxus baccata are also present. Current management by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is mostly minimum intervention. Works take place to keep the main path clear and safe and tackle the odd invasive species which might appear. Much of this unit is inaccessible because of the steep slopes, old quarries and vertical cliff faces.

 

The shrub layer is well developed and diverse including areas of neglected Hazel coppice Corylus avellanus, Holly Ilex aquifolium, Hawthorn Crataegus sp., Rowan Sorbus aucuparia, Rose Rosa sp, Guelder rose Viburnum opulus, Spindle Euonymus europaeus, Dogwood Cornus sanguinea, Wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana and areas of Bramble Rubus fruticosus

 

The ground layer appears typical of W8 woodland and there is high cover of Dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis along with Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta and areas of Wood anemone Anemone nemoralis. Other ground flora species in more open areas along the path and glade include Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella, Yellow archangel Galeobdolon luteum, Sweet woodruff Galium odoratum, Tutsan Hypericum androsaemum and a patch of a dozen or so Toothworts Lathraea squamaria. In areas with a denser canopy ground flora is poorer. There are a diversity of ferns, sedges including Pendulous sedge Carex pendula, and bryophytes along banks and tracks.

 

There is no record of the extent of open space in the FCT. Open space is generally limited to the cliff face, at least one small glade (with industrial archaeology) and the salt-marsh at the base of the woodland (with Common reed Phragmites communis and Common scurvy grass Cochlearia officinalis). The old quarry sites have now regenerated with trees. Small temporary openings within the main body of the wood are created by fallen trees. An attempt was made to access the once open old railway line at the northern end of the wood from the bottom track near the riverbank but access proved impossible up the steep bank. During the last ISA visit (14/5/09) it was recorded as rapidly becoming secondary woodland.

 

Fallen dead wood is common but there is less standing dead wood and most of this is Birch. Mature/ancient trees are occasional. The steep slopes must have an influence on the stability of mature trees and standing dead wood.

 

Small amounts of Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, and the odd small Rhododendron and Cherry laurel were spotted but the latter two were immediately removed by the GWT warden.

 

The old coppiced areas on the slope above the main east – west footpath (stop 3) show good regrowth from cut stumps with only slight deer browsing damage. Deer browsing is also evident on path side shrubs and on saplings but at low levels and is not limiting regeneration.

 

Vascular plants for which the site is notified and other additional rare plants mentioned in the criteria sheet were not found in this unit. Exact locations are currently unknown and no details are recorded on files. The identification of the Sorbus sp.and hybrids S. porrigentiformis and S. rupicola requires a specialist survey. Access could not be obtained to the railway track to view Fingered sedge Carex digitata. However a previous site visit on 14/5/09 suggested young saplings were shading it out.

 

This unit can be considered as favourable. Consider creating more open space. Continue to remove any non natives e.g. Sycamore, Cherry laurel and Rhododendron at sapling stage. Continue to record and count Narrow-leaved helleborine and ask local plant recorders and/or Records Centre for any records (with dates and locations) of the following notable, rare and uncommon plants at the site.

 

 

 

 

Number of adverse condition reasons: 0
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