Lower Wye Gorge SSSI - LANCAUT WOOD (GWT RESERVE) (002)
Staff member responsible: JULIET HYNES
Unit Id: 1013460
Unit area (ha): 26.2354
Unit Status: Live Gridref: ST 538 959
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.

 

Lancaut consists of a dense canopy of mature and younger standards. Ash Fraxinus excelsior, Oak Quercus sp, Beech Fagus sylvatica, Lime Tilia sp. Wych elm Ulmus glabra and Silver birch Betula pendula are frequent mature trees with some of these having been coppiced in the past. Smaller amounts of Field maple Acer campestre and Yew Taxus baccata with a few Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, Whitebeam Sorbus sp., Wild service tree Sorbus torminalis and Corsican pine are also present. Current management by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (the owner of most of the Unit) is mostly minimum intervention. Works take place to keep the main paths 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, landslip, boulder scree and vertical cliff faces.

 

The shrub layer is well developed and diverse including an area of old Hazel Corylus avellanus coppice and Birch regeneration (stop 2), Holly Ilex aquifolium, Hawthorn Crataegus sp., Spindle Euonymus europaeus, English elm Ulmus procera and Wayfaring tree Euonymus europaeus.

 

The ground layer appears typical of W8 woodland and there is high cover of Dogs 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 paths and glades include Yellow archangel Galeobdolon luteum, Violets Viola sp., Pignut Conopdium majus, Wild madder Rubia peregrina, Spurge laurel Daphne laureola and Lily of the valley Convallaria majalis. In the areas around the quarries where there has been historic disturbance the ground flora appears poorer and these areas generally have more Bramble Rubus fruticosus, and Ivy Hedera helix. There are a diversity of ferns including banks of Hart’s tounge fern Phyllitis scolopendrium on rocky outcrops and sedges including Wood sedge Carex sylvatica.

 

There is no record of the extent of open space in the FCT. Open space is generally limited to small glades (created and kept open by GWT), areas of landslip and boulder scree, cliff faces and open grassy areas aside the river (including the area around the chapel). The old quarry sites have now regenerated with trees. Small temporary openings within the main body of the wood are created by fallen trees.

 

Small amounts of non natives including a few mature coppiced Sycamore c. 150 years + (near stop 7) and some mature planted Corsican pines (stop 9) can be found within the old quarries. The Sycamore are which are seeding locally are more of an issue. Discussions were held with the warden over the value of the mature Sycamore versus the need to stop it spread and it was decided that further felling and stump treatment work would be ideal.

 

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

 

Coppiced areas show good regrowth from cut stumps with only slight deer browsing damage and good seedling and sapling regeneration. Deer browsing is also evident on path side shrubs and on saplings but at low levels and is not limiting regeneration.

 

Notable vascular plants located included the Narrow-leaved helleborine Cephalanthera longifolia. GWT noted a further established location for this species would be checked and counted towards the end of May. The identification of the Sorbus sp.and hybrids S. porrigentiformis and S. rupicola requires a specialist survey.

 

This unit can be considered as favourable. Consider creating more open space. The northern part of the unit is owned by Mr Parry and there may be further opportunities here. Continue to remove any non natives e.g. Cherry laurel and Rhododendron at sapling stage. Fell accessible mature Sycamores near path. Treat stumps. Remove Sycamore sapling regeneration.

Number of adverse condition reasons: 0
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