CARAVAN CLUB ECOLOGICAL SITE APPRAISAL
General Information Site Name and County: Low Park Wood Caravan Club Site, Cumbria Grid Reference: SD 509 878 Area: 8.09 hectares Date: 18/06/06 Recorder: Vilas Anthwal, JUST ECOLOGY Weather Conditions: Overcast, warm.
Low Park Wood Caravan Club Site
Site Description The site is located approximately between 20-40m above sea-level and comprises a mainly wooded habitat on the west bank of the River Kent. The topography of the site is moderately sloping east facing banks in the west of the site, leveling out to a flat river flood plain in the east of the site. The site has 161 pitches on hard standing surrounded by fragments of amenity grassland. Maintenance buildings are concentrated in the south-east corner, with the exception of two toilet blocks, and caravanning pitches are distributed fairly evenly across the site. There several are woodland walks running throughout the site. Context The site is within the Cumbria Fells and Dales Natural Area (www.englishnature.org.uk) and more specifically is within the Morecombe Limestones part of this Natural Area. This comprises the limestone country surrounding Morecambe Bay which extends from Furness to Carnforth. The landscape is characterised by upstanding blocks of limestone with scars, cliffs, scree and limestone pavement, separated by fertile valleys and broadleaved woodland. There is species-rich limestone grassland, often with pockets of limestone heath and juniper scrub, and the limestone pavements are obvious nature conservation features. Semi-natural woodlands are characteristic of this area and where these form mosaics with the grasslands and pavements they can be particularly important for invertebrates such as butterflies. Lime-rich marl lakes, a rare habitat in Britain, are also found in these limestone areas. The head of the Leven and Kent estuaries, which form part of Morecambe Bay, have extensive areas of lowland raised mire. However, many of these have been cut over for domestic peat or reclaimed for agriculture. At Leighton Moss reclaimed peatland has been re-flooded and the areas of open water and reed-bed that have developed support rare birds. Adjacent to the site there is one SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), River Kent and tributaries SSSI. Further afield (but within 3km) is the Scout and Cunswick Scars SSSI. The Scars are made up of a complex of limestone habitats which support a very rich fauna and flora including a number of rare and local species. The main habitats present in this SSSI are unimproved calcareous grassland and areas of dry dwarf shrub heath with scattered trees and shrubs, woodland, open water and fen. The assemblage of habitats can be regarded as unique in Cumbria (www.englishnature.org.uk). The nearest designated site, River Kent and tributaries SSSI, support nationally important populations of whiteclawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes. One of the headwaters also supports one of the largest populations of fresh water pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera in England. The rivers main tributaries have their catchments in the south eastern Lake District fells. On the higher ground these drain from rocks of Ordovician and Silurian age. Natural mineral enrichment provides the calcium necessary for growth of crayfish. Downstream from Kendal, the main channel of the Kent flows through a series of limestone defiles and gorges. This stretch is influenced by calcium-rich limestone springs. White-clawed crayfish are found throughout the river system, from the headwaters of the Rivers Kent, Gowan, Mint and Sprint downstream to the lower reaches of the main Kent channel near Sedgwick. The Kent is the only major river system in England where populations of white-clawed crayfish can still be found throughout the catchment, wherever there are suitable habitats and at high densities. Within the Kent catchment, crayfish are found
in the lower reaches near sea level up to at least 250m above sea level in the headwaters of the Rivers Kent and Mint. Dubbs Beck, the headwater of the River Gowan, also has populations in two small reservoirs. The Kent system presents a variety of habitats for crayfish. This includes extensive areas with a loosely structured but stable stream bed of cobbles and stones. Crayfish are also found in the more unstable, turbulent reaches of the upper Kent and Sprint wherever there are small areas of cobbles and stones at the edge of channels. In the lower reaches, and particularly through Kendal, there are extensive beds of water crowfoot Ranunculus spp and alternate-flowered water-milfoil Myriophyllum alterniflorum providing a further habitat and food source for crayfish. In the headwaters of the River Gowan, populations are found in streams less than a metre wide with only a few centimetres depth of water. This contrasts with the lower stretches of the main Kent channel where crayfish are found in much deeper water amongst boulders and shattered bedrock. The main channel of the River Kent has extensive reaches with undisturbed riparian habitats of woodland and tall riparian vegetation. Much of the river system is lined with tall, marginal vegetation of reed canary-grass Phalaris arundinacea, hemlock water dropwort Oenanthe crocata and associated tall herbs and grasses. The submerged roots of these plants, and the diversity of habitats created by the riparian vegetation, provide excellent refuges for crayfish. Apart from the quality and extent of habitats, the Kent is an excellent river for crayfish for a number of other reasons. The Kent and its tributaries have generally high water quality. With a short distance from the headwaters to the mouth of the river, and heavy rainfall on the catchment fells, the river has a high degree of flushing. This maintains the river bed relatively free of silt and algal growth. This means the spaces between and under river stones and cobbles provide excellent habitat for crayfish and their invertebrate food. Finally, the Kent catchment is free from introductions of non-native crayfish and there is no record of crayfish plague. Although white-clawed crayfish is still present throughout most of its natural range in England, there are only three catchments where this once common freshwater crustacean can still be considered to be abundant and widespread. These are the Eden and Kent in Cumbria and the Wye on the English/Welsh border. In other catchments, populations are small and scattered or under threat from non-native crayfish and crayfish plague. Apart from the impact of non-native crayfish, declines in water quality, loss of natural riparian habitats and river channel modifications have all led to declines in crayfish populations. Freshwater pearl mussels are also found together in one of the upper tributaries. The Kent system supports one of only two populations of pearl mussel in England which are currently known to be recruiting young mussels. Freshwater pearl mussels can live for over 100 years. Their life cycle is however complex and in part dependent upon the maintenance of a healthy salmonid population. Populations of freshwater pearl mussels are aging and declining across their European range. This is attributed to pollution, alterations to river channels, changes in flow regimes, exploitation and decreasing salmonid numbers. The populations within the UK are now considered to be of international importance.
Habitat Information Broad Habitats Present: Broad-leaved Woodland, Improved Grassland. BAP Priority Habitats Present: Upland Ashwood with National Vegetation Classification (NVC) affinities: W8 Fraxinus excelsior- Acer campestris- Mercurialis perennis woodland. Subsidiary Habitats Present: Tufa springs. Grassland Communities: There were no extensive areas of grassland and the site had a predominantly woodland character. Where grassland was present it was confined to small mown clearings and the edges of caravan pitches (Figure 1). The sward here was re-seeded as amenity grassland dominated by Perennial Rye Grass Lolium perenne and Common Bent Agrostis capillaris, and herbs such as Daisy Bellis perennis, Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens and Greater Plantain Plantago major.
Figure 1 Mown grassland at the woodland edge
Some parts of the woodland are kept open and the flora in these areas resembles woodland glades and rides. Such habitats are considered within the woodland section of this report. Woodland:
The woodland on site is a fairly homogenous stand of mixed broadleaved tree species with rare coniferous trees. The canopy of the majority of the woodland on site was fairly closed except for the access roads and managed clearings. Woodland cover was an estimated at 80% for the whole site. Although topography changes from sloping to the west to flatter to the east, the woodland habitat type remained fairly uniform throughout with small areas of localised flushing. Frequent species in the canopy included Ash Fraxinus excelsior, Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, with occasional Wych Elm Ulmus glabra and rare Beech Fagus sylvatica. Some parts of the site included rare Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, a species that often planted as plantation or specimen trees. The under-storey and scrub under the deciduous woodland areas was fairly open to the east of the site, becoming much more dense upslope in the west. Canopy cover was estimated at approximately 40% including Hazel Coryllus avellana, Elder Sambucus nigra, a maple acer sp., Red Currant Ribes rubum and bramble Rubus fruticosus agg.. Red Currant is considered to be a possible indicator of ancient woodland habitat. There was some evidence of Ash regeneration in the woodland, which should be encouraged, however there was also a large amount of invasive Sycamore regeneration. The woodland supported a excellent mixture of characteristic woodland ground-flora. Of the species recorded, thirteen are considered to be indicators of ancient woodland habitat. These indicator species are denoted in the following text with an asterisk. Native woodland species associated with the broad-leaved canopy included a polypody Polypody sp., (NT)1*Greater Butterfly-orchid Platanthera chlorantha, Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii, *Early-purple Orchid Orchis mascula, Enchanters-nightshade Circaea lutetiana, *Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, *Herb-Paris Paris quadrifolia, Wood Avens, Geum urbanum, *Common Dog-violet Viola riviana, *Solomons-seal Polygonatum multiflorum, *Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta, *Wild Garlic Allium ursinum, *Dogs Mercury Mercurialis perenne and *Common Twayblade Listera ovata. In the more open areas of woodland which resembled glades and rides (Figure 2), the ground-flora also included Bracken Pteridium aquilinum, (NT) Wild Pansy Viola tricolor ssp. tricolor, Tall Fescue Festuca arundinacea, Bugle Ajuga reptans, Common Nettle Urtica dioica, Small Scabious Scabiosa columbaria and *Hairy St Johns-wort Hypericum hirsutum. Where wetter ground conditions prevailed alongside small streams on site, Square-stalked St Johns-wort Hypericum tetrapterum and *Remote Sedge Carex remota were also present. Also on site was the aggressive invasive species Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera that was becoming dominant in open parts of the site (Figure 3).
1 Near Threatened according to the Vascular Plant Red data List for GB (2005) edited by C.M. Cheffings &L. Farrel.
Figure 2 Woodland clearing on site.
Figure 3 Abundant Himalayan Balsam with Solomons-seal beneath
The woodland habitat included standing and fallen dead/decaying wood, frequently with standing pine stumps, in well lit situations favourable to decaying wood invertebrates (Figure 4).
Figure 4 Fallen dead wood
Other: In the south-west of the site there was a tufa spring running down the hill and eventually joining the network of canalised ditches on the site that associated with the on gunpowder work. The culverts of the gunpowder works are know dry for much of the year and exit in to the River Kent. The river itself borders the site and should be considered as a feature of considerable ecological consideration in its own right not the least due to its designation as a SSSI.
Grassland is extremely limited in extent on site owing to the largely wooded character of the site. Where found bordering the caravan pitches, grassland is floristically species-poor and, due to the intense mowing regime, has a low potential to support a wide range of fauna. The flora along the margin of the woodlands and in the open glade-like areas is diverse in comparison to mown sections of grassland surrounding the caravan pitches. The resultant sward has a more diverse structure creating more varied habitats for invertebrates, reptiles, birds and small mammals such voles and shrews. These habitat conditions also provided important resources for butterflies and
other nectaring invertebrate species such as hoverflies (Syrphidae) and bees (Apoidea). Woodlands on site exhibited the character of upland ashwood, a priority habitat in the UK BAP (www.ukbap.org.uk).The term upland ashwoods is used for woods on base-rich soils in the north and west of Britain, in most of which Ash is a major species. The term upland reflects the abundance of this type of woodland on base-rich soils in upland Britain, rather than the altitude at which individual woodlands occur. Upland ashwoods are found on base-rich soils throughout the uplands of north-west Britain and Northern Ireland. In Cumbria, upland Ash woodland is particularly concentrated on the limestones of Morecambe Bay (where it is locally extensive) and Orton Fells in the Cumbria Fells and Dales Natural Area. Woodland is an important feature of the limestone country around Morecambe Bay and the low fells to the north but much of the area further north and east is relatively sparsely wooded (www.english-nature.org.uk). The limestone woodlands mostly comprise Ash, Hazel and Small-leaved Lime along with Sessile Oak, Elm and lime-loving shrubs. Many of these shrubs are found here close to or at the northern limit of their distribution in Britain. They can support a rich ground flora such as those found on site. There are no precise data on the total extent of upland ashwoods in the UK, but the estimated total extent of ancient semi-natural woodland of this type is 40,000 to 50,000 ha (www.wildlifeincumbria.org.uk). Nationally, upland Ash woodland has declined in area through clearance, overgrazing and replanting with non-native species, by about 30-40% over the last 50 years. In Cumbria there are 15,593 ha of ancient semi-natural woodland 2, an unknown proportion of which is upland ashwood. On the Morecambe Bay limestone this proportion may be about 90%, but in the other areas it will be much lower. There are no precise data for losses of upland ashwood in Cumbria, but Phillips gives figures of approximately 5% clearance of all ancient woodland and 37% replanting with conifers and other non-native species, between approximately 1920 and the mid 1980s. There are four National Nature Reserves supporting upland mixed ash woodland in Cumbria. 34 Sites of Special Scientific Interest are notified for their upland mixed ash woodland. The broadleaved woodland on site included a very high proportion of ancient woodland indicators within a diverse woodland ground-flora. The ground-flora would suggest that woodland has been a feature of the site for a considerable time and the presence of thirteen ancient woodland indicators would also suggest that woodland is an historical land-use on site and therefore maintaining woodland on site in the future would be appropriate. Soils on site are base-rich or calcicolous (of a calcium-rich nature), such soils support some of the richest woodlands in the UK in terms of groundflora. This is demonstrated on site considering the richness of the ground-flora observed during a sub-optimal time of year for woodland survey. Where conditions are favourable, tufa springs have formed in the south-west of the site. Tufa formation is associated with hard-water springs, where groundwater from limestone-rich aquifers comes to the surface. On contact with the air, carbon dioxide is lost from the water rich in calcium bicarbonate and a hard deposit of calcium carbonate (tufa) is formed. Within the UK, these conditions occur most often in areas 2 Phillips, P.M. 1994. Cumbria inventory of ancient woodland (provisional). English Nature. Peterborough
underlain by limestone or other calcareous rocks, and particularly in the uplands of northern England and the Scottish Highlands. Petrifying springs with tufa formation are listed in Annex 1 of the EC Habitats directive, although no habitat action plan has been prepared for this priority habitat (www.jncc.gov.uk). The banks of the River Kent are riparian zone of the SSSI designation. Care should be taken when working in this area and advise should be sort from English Nature should operations which may need licensing be required.
BAP Species Seen: None BAP Species Potential: White-clawed Crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes, bats, Song Thrush Turdus philomelos, Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata. Other Noteworthy Species: Ancient woodland indicator flora, Greater Butterfly-orchid. Flora: The sites flora was more interesting in community terms than for the rarity of any particular species, though many interesting plant species were found. The woodland habitat supported several characteristic ancient woodland species such as Early-purple Orchid, Enchanters-nightshade, Herb-Paris, Solomons-seal and Common Twayblade. Also recorded was greater Butterfly Orchid, which smells faintly of vanilla with two glossy leaves folded around the base growing to around 30 cm in height. It grows in damp woods, scrub, heath and meadows, especially on alkaline soils such as those found on site. This is a species that thrives in clearings which is evident on site as the plant was often observed in more open areas of the woodland.
Figure 5 Greater Butterfly-orchid Platanthera chlorantha
Avifauna: The mature trees on the site provide a good foraging resource and cover for insectivorous and seed-eating birds and the adjacent river provide excellent resource for birds associated with riparian habitat. Species recorded feeding in the woodland canopy during the survey included Blue Tit Parus caeruleus and Coal Tit Parus ater. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea was also observed hunting in the river to the east of the site. There was plenty of suitable foraging habitat and potential nesting habitat for woodland birds on site and the warden takes a particular interest in birds on and around the site which should be encouraged where possible. Residents on site also provide food for birds. A list of sightings of birds and flora seen on site was displayed in the site office and are included in Appendix 1. These should be treated with some caution as details of when, where and by whom the records were made are not provided. The presence of Little Robin Geranium purpureum which is not found in Cumbria3 also highlights the need to validate some of these records should they be sent on to records centres or used to inform future management. Invertebrates: The site supported some areas of good invertebrate habitat. These included open rides and sunny sheltered woodland edge nectar resources with flowering bramble blossom, and the ashwood. The open glade-like habitats on the flatter parts of the east of the site provides a valuable early summer nectar resource for many species including ground-nesting solitary bees and wasps, beetles, flies and bugs. Sweeps in amongst this vegetation and under the ashwood canopy yielded common invertebrates including treehoppers (membracidae), a scorpion fly Panorpa sp., mirid bugs (miridae), craneflies (tipilids), soldier and sailor beetles (cantharidae). An invertebrate survey in the clearing on site may yield a high diversity of species. There was plenty of standing and fallen decaying wood within the wooded areas on the site, the stumps of trees were found in fairly open conditions providing a resource for wood boring beetles including bark beetles (scolytidae) and possibly longhorn beetles (cerambycidae). Detailed invertebrate surveying was rather peripheral to the surveys main aim given the size of this site and few invertebrates were recorded. The presence of White-clawed Crayfish on the River Kent is integral to its SSSI designation. The SSSI citation suggests the headwaters and tributaries feeding the river also contain important populations of crayfish. Such habitat exists on site and there remains the opportunity to improve habitats for crayfish, specifically the small tufa springs running down the hill or the old canalised stream associated with the mill that has the potential to act as a back water ditch system. No crayfish were found during the survey although a detail search was not possible within the scope of this survey. Herptofauna: Woodland edge and glade habitat provides suitable habitat for reptiles such as Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara and the scrub edge habitat in drier conditions provides potentially suitable habitat for Slow Worm Anguis fragilis. There was no
3 Preston C.D., Pearson D.A. & Dines T.S., 2002, NewAtlas of the British Flora. Oxford University Press
potential habitat suitable for Grass Snake Natrix natrix, a species commonly associated with wetland habitats. There were no ponds on the site, however, suitable refuges and hibernation sites for amphibians such as Common Toad Bufo bufo and Common Frog Rana rana were present in tree roots, under fallen deadwood and crevices beneath rocks and stones within the woodland. It is unknown whether there are ponds is the surrounding countryside which may provide suitable breeding habitat. If there are, amphibians may roam for a few kilometres to hibernate and forage in terrestrial habitat.
Mammals: The survey yielded evidence of small mammals feeding on hazelnut and acorn, and the presence of a potential bat roost in on of the site buildings. A nut search was conducted to look for evidence of Common Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius, though no evidence of dormouse was found. There were dormouse tubes located in woodland in the west of the site. These are used for survey of scrub and woodland for the presence of dormouse. They are particularly effective from May to October when nesting material, signs of feeding remains and even dormice may be found in the tube. It would be useful if the owners of the nest tubes could be identified so any records could be provided to the Club and if possible, a collaboration of effort could be agreed for monitoring and practical management. Bats have been known by the wardens to roost in the generator shed at the back of the main reception. At the time of the survey bat dropping were found in the shed and it is possible that bats were present under the roofing felt in the roof. Other buildings on site also present potential roosting opportunities for bats. The small old stone hut in the very east of the site near the river (Figure 6) had gaps in the stone work which could be used by roosting bats.
Figure 6 Small old stone hut
The old gunpowder works towards the south-east of the site had a great deal of potential for roosting bats (Figure 7). Although the area was inaccessible without appropriate health and safety measures, the old stone structures clearly had many crevices where bats could roost. The wardens also report the presence of underground structures which are potentially important hibernation sites. Bats often use caves and cellars over winter as temperatures in these structures as low and variations are minimal. Along with favourable moisture levels in the air, this helps provide ideal conditions for bats to maintain a near hibernation-like state known as torper.
Figure 7 Old gunpowder woks
It is likely that the woodland present on site provides valuable roosting and foraging habitat for bats. Potential hibernation or maternity roosts may be found on site in rot holes and cavities in large trees. Other mammals may be present on site including shrews, voles, Badger Meles meles and Fox Vulpes vulpes.
The Song Thrush has a Species Action Plan in the Cumbria BAP and the Caravan Club is a species champion for this farmland bird that is in national decline it is also listed as a red species in Birds of Conservation Concern.. It is likely that this BAP priority species is more typically associated with more open habitats, where it feeds readily on earthworms and other invertebrates like snails that are mostly taken from close to the surface of damp, nutrient rich soils. The change in agricultural practices away from spring-sown to autumn-sown crops has resulted in the reduction of open areas on which to forage. This has been compounded by the conversion of
invertebrate-rich permanent pasture to intensive arable cultivation and the loss of field margins. In autumn, Song Thrushes take large numbers of hedgerow fruits, particularly sloes from Blackthorn Prunus spinosa, Elderberries Sambucus nigra and Guelder-rose Viburnum opulus. Unfortunately these resources are also declining severely through the loss of hedges. Bats are roosting on site and there is considerable foraging habitat including woodland, glades and the river. Of the sixteen species of bat breeding in Britain, eight species have been recorded in Cumbria and a further two have been identified by electronic bat detector only. All bats are legally protected in the UK, and under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended by the Countryside and Rights if Way Act 2000), it is an offence to kill, injure or destroy the roost of any bat species. For the bats occurring in Cumbria there is a combined species action plan within the Cumbria Biodiversity Action Plan (www.wildlifeincumbria.org.uk). All these species are listed on Annex IVa of the Habitats and Species Directive (1992) and in Appendix III of the Bern Convention, and all except the pipistrelle are listed in Appendix II. All UK bat species are included in Appendix II of the Bonn Convention. The presence of bats in buildings means the roost is fully protected by law and no work can be carried out within the vicinity (i.e. loft, eaves or roof) until a bat disturbance licence is granted by Defra. A mitigation strategy will need to be developed with details on how disturbance to bats can be prevented/minimised, and specific details on how the bats will be incorporated into the design of the new development to ensure their long-term survival and protection. Further investigation, including bat surveys at an appropriate time of year (spring/summer), should be encouraged and would be may be required for any development to proceed legally. Where possible the roosts should be managed favourably to promote the usage of the roost in the future. The potential of the site for bats could be enhanced by erecting bat boxes on building on site. Such boxes are also very useful for monitoring bats and could be done in association with the Cumberland Bat Group. Although the presence of both White-clawed Crayfish and Common Dormouse is unknown, there remains the potential for both species to be present on site. Both species have species action plans in the UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) although neither have a local BAP within Cumbria at present. Of the four species of orchid recorded on site, the Greater Butterfly-orchid (Figure 5) is the rarest. Due to population declines in the last century it is classified as Near Threatened on the UK vascular plant red data list.
Some of the site could be managed as it currently is, as woodland, perhaps with the ultimate aim of selective removal of coniferous trees, but over a long period of time so as not to open the canopy open dramatically and loose the woodland character on site.
Felled tree stumps should be left to allow colonisation by fungi and deadwood
invertebrates. Felling and scrub clearance should be conducted between October and early February, to avoid the potential risk to nesting birds.
Within the woodland selective thinning of younger trees could be conducted
particularly in heavily shaded areas to create more open conditions enabling a wider range of ground flora to persist. (timescale as above). It may also be necessary to thin some of the invasive species such as Sycamore where dense stands of saplings persist. If any mature or dead trees are marked for surgery or felling it is advisable to get them checked by a bat expert.
An annual hay-cut (strimming or hand cutting) of the glade areas would
ideally be conducted in September, the cut hay should be raked and removed from the site. Avoid depositing piles of cuttings in the woodland area, as this causes unwanted nutrient build-up and may encourage the development and flowering of ruderal plants like Common Nettle Urtica dioica.
Buffer zones of longer grass adjacent to woodland edges or hedgerows should
be extended beyond the 0.5-1m currently in place to 2m or greater where possible. This would provide additional invertebrate habitat and nectar source, and also provide greater cover for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. These buffer zones should be cut once or twice per year, ideally in late July/Early August and in the Autumn to allow wildflowers and favourable grasses time to set seed. Species such as Foxglove, Red Campion, Wood Avens, Common Dog Violet and vetches are suited to the woodland edge and may well come in naturally to buffer zones if a suitable cutting regime is adopted. Cut vegetation should be removed from the buffer zone to avoid die back and swamping by ruderal species.
Leave at least some fallen and standing deadwood in situ, this provides habitat
for dead wood invertebrates, which, in turn provides a valuable food resource for insectivorous woodland birds such as woodpeckers and warblers. Outside of the breeding season in spring, fallen dead wood also provides shelter for amphibians.
Maintain bare earth patches in the grassland areas of the site especially on
gentle slopes in sheltered sunny locations at the edges of the caravan pitches.
If new planting of trees and hedgerows is necessary only native species, ideally of a local provenance should be used. Generally the commonest tree and shrub species are most beneficial to invertebrates and many produce autumn nuts and berries such as Rowan, Hawthorn, Holly and Hazel. Ash, Birch, Blackthorn, Field Maple and Oak are also desirable species. In the case
of any new hedgerow planting, a mix the above should be used with occasional standards to increase structural diversity. Limited inter-planting with species such as Honeysuckle that is attractive and highly scented will provide a nectar source for moths. Invasive shrubs giving dense ground cover should be avoided in any new planting.
As well as Sycamore, effort should be made to control and preferably
eradicate Himalyan Balsam on site as it is currently suppressing the native ground-flora.
Any removal of scrub or woodland must be carried out at an appropriate time
of year to avoid the bird nesting season (see Appendix 3). The woodland contains a tufa spring. The construction of a boardwalk in this
vicinity would protect the stream bank and reduce the potential risk that this hazard presents to users of the site. Protections zone should be enforced near the spring so users of the site do not damage the tufa deposits.
Tree stumps, log piles and mounds should be left in-situ or consolidated in to
hibernacula, these will provide excellent invertebrate, reptile and amphibian habitat, particularly if left in a sunny spot. Increased insect diversity will in turn attract more bird species to the area. Coarse stone, rubble or deadwood could be placed in discrete piles around the site to create hibernation sites for a range of wildlife including reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. These would be ideally located in area of scrub and longer grassland.
If any lighting is to be installed on site regard should be made to the activity of
bats on site and the impacts the lighting may have on potential or known roosts. Bat boxes could be erected on site on hedge row trees or within the woodland.
Further Suggestions to Enhance the Wildlife Value of the Site
Nest boxes One or two owl boxes could also be erected. Nestboxes need cleaning out once each autumn. Continue to position bird nest boxes in suitable locations both in the open and in the woodland, to provide nesting sites for birds and enhance the sites interest for campers.
Bird feeding stations Feeding stations could be added at three or four places
throughout the site. Two or three feeders at each station could hold a variety of food. One with niger seed; one with husked sunflower seed and a third with general purpose food plus fat balls. Large plastic dishes are available to place beneath feeders to catch most of the fallen debris, which attract birds unable to use hanging feeders, these can be cleaned periodically.
Bug boxes - Consider positioning bug boxes (boxes containing short lengths
of bamboo. Insects such as solitary bees and wasps can use the bamboo tubes for nesting) these can be fixed onto trees in sheltered locations at thee woodland edge.
Wildlife Pond - Consider creating a wildlife pond on the site. An ideal
location for this may be within the mowed amenity grassland of the playing field. Ecological advice should be sought regarding the ponds location, construction and stocking of wetland plants. A wildlife pond should be stocked only with native aquatic plant species, ideally of local provenance and ponds should not be stocked with ornamental fish.
Wildlife Information - Consider promoting the wildlife value of the site as a
feature by providing interpretation material (leaflets /posters) and /or setting up a nature trail through the woodland. Users of the site should be deterred from roaming off pathways in the woodland. People wishing to fish in the area should be made aware of the possibility of transmitting crayfish plague to the river and the necessary precautions that should be undertaken.
Wildlife recording Hold a wildlife records book and/or board for casual
observations and sightings. This will aid monitoring of wildlife on site and promote the role of the Caravan Club members in building biodiversity on site. Important sightings of rare flora and fauna should be passed on to the Local Biodiversity Records Centre.
Further Survey or Information Requirements
The survey was conducted late in the season to record many of the woodland ground flora species. It is highly probable that further NVC surveys conducted between April and May will reveal a greater range of woodland ground flora species and help describe the vegetation communities present. Further specialist surveys of lower plants, mosses are also recommended.
Further invertebrate surveys at an appropriate time of year are highly
recommended, particularly in the glade-like areas on site. Specialist bat surveys to establish the known and potential bats roosts should
be undertaken as should survey to assess foraging activity of bats on site.
Specialist survey of dormouse and crayfish should be undertaken following a data search of all know record holders and those carrying out activity related to these species locally.
Appendix 1 Sightings lists from the site reception.
Appendix 2 - Bats Certain species of bats may use the site for foraging (flying insects) and some may roost in convenient trees on the site or nearby. These will probably be pipistrelle bats Pipistrellus sp. Although it remains the most abundant and widespread bat species in the UK, the pipistrelle is thought to have undergone a significant decline in numbers this century. Estimates from the National Bat Colony Survey suggest a population decline of approximately 70% between 1978 and 1993. The current pre-breeding population estimate for the UK stands at approximately 2,000,000. Females form maternity roosts of up to several hundred adults from May, often in house roofs but also in woodland. They give birth to a single live young in July. Males are much more solitary. Hibernation takes place from November to March. Pipistrelles forage for small insects in varied habitats but woodland edges, hedgerows and waterways are particularly important. The pipistrelle bat is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention, Annex IV of the EC Habitats Directive and Appendix II of the Bonn Convention (and is included under the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe). It is protected under
Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations, 1994 (Regulation 38) and Schedules 5 and 6 of the WCA 1981. Appendix 3 - Birds In Britain all wild birds are granted legal protection under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, the Bern Convention and the EC Birds Directive. This legislation protects the birds, their eggs and nests whilst being built or in use. Such protection makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure, take or have in possession any wild bird or egg. It is also an offence to intentionally damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is being built or in use. Any vegetation clearance and tree works should preferably take place outside of the bird-nesting season to minimise disturbance. The nesting season varies from year to year, according to the weather conditions but generally begins in March, peaks during May and June and continues until August.