Friends of the Forest

Biodiversity in the Forest of Dean

March 2003

1   INTERNATIONALLY DESIGNATED CONSERVATIONS SITES

There are 3 internationally designated RAMSAR and Special Protected Area conservation sites in the Forest of Dean district.  These are the Upper Severn Estuary, the Severn Estuary, and Walmore Common (see Table 1).  In addition, four areas of the District have been put forward as Candidates for Special Area of Conservation designation.  These are the River Wye, the Severn Estuary (including the are covered by Upper Severn SPA), the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Sites, and the Wye Valley Woodlands.  All the above sites have been registered by the UK on the European NATURA 2000 Network acknowledging them as internationally important sites that the Government is committed to safeguarding.

2  NATIONALLY DESIGNATED CONSERVATION SITES

Including the 2 National Nature Reserves already declared under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 at Highbury Wood (Newland) and Lady Park Wood (Staunton) there are 47 conservation sites of national importance in the District.  All are Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  46 are designated by way of either their flora or fauna, and Garden Cliff (Westbury-on-Severn) is designated by way of its geology.

3  Conservation Sites of Regional or Local Importance

208 sites in the Forest of Dean district have been identified to date and classified as sites of regional or local importance. They are spread throughout the District and while a number are within the control of or have the involvement of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, others remain under private ownership.

4  NON-STATUTORY NATURE RESERVE

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds owns 2 sites in the Forest of Dean District.  These are at Nagshead (Parkend) and at Highnam Woods (Churcham).

5  Regionally Important Sites Not BIODIVERSITY RELATED

37 sites within the Forest of Dean District have been notified as qualifying as regional important geological sites (RIGS).  They are spread throughout the district with a significant number of them located in the eastern escarpment area.

6            UK BIODIVERSITY PRIORITY SPECIES – FOREST OF DEAN DISTRICT

Little data relating to UK biodiversity priority species are readily available specific to the Forest of Dean, but of the data that are available the following are worth noting.  Those species marked with an * have been observed of recent years, or there is evidence for them in the District.  Other species on the list may also be present in the District but separate specialist advice needs to be sought regarding them.

Severn Estuary

·   Allis Shad*

·   Twaite Shad*

·   Linnet*

·   Reed Bunting*

 

Other Rivers and Streams

·   Allis Shad*

·   Twaite Shad*

·   Water Vole*

·   White Clawed Crayfish

·   European Otter*

·   Freshwater Pearl Mussel*

·   Freshwater Pea Mussel*

·   Depressed River Mussel*

·   Great Tassel Stonewort

·   Moss - orthotrichum sprucei

·   Moss – weissia rostellata

·   True-fox Sedge*

·   Barbastelle Bat*

·   Reed Bunting*

·   Lesser Horseshoe Bat*

 

Canals

·    Grass wrack pondweed

·    European Otter

·   Water Vole*

·   White Clawed Crayfish

·   Freshwater Pea Mussel

·   Depressed River Mussel

·   Great Tassel Stonewort

·   Pipistrelle Bat*

·    Lesser Horseshoe Bat*

Reedbeds

·    Bittern

·    Reed Bunting*

·    Water Vole*

·    European Otter*

·    Corn Bunting

·    Pipistrelle Bat*

·    Great Crested Newt*

 

Open Waters

·    Lesser Bearded Stonewort

·    Starry Stonewort

·    Great Crested Newt*

·    Bittern

·   Water Vole*

·   White Clawed Crayfish

·   Reed Bunting*

·   European Otter*

·   Tassel Stonewort

·   Great Tassel Stonewort

·   Moss - weissia rostellata

·    Lesser Horseshoe Bat*

 

Lowland Grassland

·    Skylark*

·    Bittern

·    Linnet*

·    True-fox Sedge

·    European Otter

·    Grey Partridge

·   Great Crested Newt*

·    Moss - weissia rostellata

 

Unimproved Neutral Grassland

·    Skylark*

·    Great Crested Newt*

·    Bumblebees*

·    Linnet*

·    Striped Lychnis Moth

·    Bordered gothic Moth

·    Brown Hare*

·    Corn Bunting*

·    Tree Sparrow*

·    Grey Partridge

·    Pale Shining moth

·    Greater Horseshoe Bat*

·    Turtle Dove*

·    Barred Toothed-stripped Moth

·    Song Thrush*

 

Unimproved Limestone Grassland

·        Hornet Robber Fly

·        Leaf Beetle – cryptocephalus primaries

·        Marsh Fritillary Butterfly

·        Early Gentian

·        Bordered gothic moth

·        Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth

·        Pink Meadow Cap

·        Juniper*

·        Adonis Blue Butterfly

·        Lunar Yellow Underwing Moth

·        Pale shining Brown Moth

·        Chalk Carpet Moth

·        Barred Toothed-stripped Moth

·        Skylark*

·        Bumblebee*

·        Dotted Beefly

·        Striped Lychnis Moth

·        Red Hemp-nettle

·        Linnet*

·        Moss – selligeria paucifolla

·        Cotswold Pennycress

·        Great Crested Newt*

·        Song Thrush*

·        Moss – weissa sterilis

 

Cereal Field Margins

·         Linnet*

·         Cornflower

·         Reed Bunting*

·         Reed Hemp-nettle

·         Corn Bunting*

·         Tree Sparrow*

·         Grey Partridge

·         Sheperds Needle

·         Turtle dove*

·         Spreading Hedge-parsley

·         Moss – weissa sterilis

·         Moss – weissa squarrosa

·         Skylark*

·         Bumblebees*

·         Brown Hare*

·         Woodlark*

·         Bullfinch*

·         Great Crested Newt*

·         Song thrush*

·         Broad-fruited Cornsalad

 

Ancient and/or Species Rich Hedgerows

·        Linnet*

·        Stag Beetle*

·        Dormouse*

·        Spotted Flycatcher*

·        Barberry Carpet Moth*

·        Tree sparrow*

·        Grey Partridge

·        Bullfinch*

·        Greater Horseshoe Bat*

·        Lesser Horseshoe Bat*

·        Turtle dove*

·        Great Crested Newt*

·        Song thrush*

·        Barbastelle Bat*

·        Bumblebees*

·        Dotted Beefly

·        White-spotted Pinion Moth

·        Bechstein’s Bat*

·        Pipistrelle Bat*

 

Woodlands

·        Barbestrelle Bat*

·        Devil’s Bolete*

·        Pearl-bordered Fritillary Butterfly

·        White-spotted Pinion Moth

·        Lime Bark Beetle

·        Re Wood ant*

·        Waved Carpet Moth

·        Orange Upperwing Moth

·        Cranefly – lipsothrix nervosa*

·        Stag Beetle*

·        Woodlark*

·        Drab Looper Moth

·        Dormouse*

·        Spotted flycatcher*

·        Bechstein’s Bat*

·        Tree Sparrow*

·        Common Fan Foot Moth

·        Bullfinch*

·        Argent and Sable Moth

·        Greater Horseshoe Bat*

·        Lesser Horseshoe Bat*

·        White-line Snout Moth

·        Moss – seligeria paucifolia

·        Turtle Dove*

·        Bar Toothed-striped Moth

·        Song thrush*

·        High Brown Frittary Butterfly

·        Lichen – bacidia incompta

·        Dotted Beefly

·        Nightjar*

·        Linnet*

·        Prickly Sedge

·        Buttoned Snout Moth

·        Brown Hare*

·        Violet Click Beetle

·        European Otter

·        Lunar Yellow Underwing Moth

·        Pipistrelle Bat*

·        Great Crested Newt*

·         Moss – weissa rostellata

·        Moss – weissa squarrosa

 

Wood pasture, Parkland and Veteran Trees

·        Lichen – bacidia incompta

·        Devil’s Bolete

·        Beetle – gastrallus immarginatus

·        Violet Click Beetle

·        Stag Beetle*

·        Spotted Flycatcher*

·        Tree Sparrow*

·        Lime Tree Beetle

·        Noble Chafer*

·        Pipistrelle Bat*

·        Greater Horseshoe Bat*

·        Song Thrush*

 

Lowland Heathland

·        Nightjar*

·        Dingy Mocha Moth

·        Woodlark*

·        White-line snout Moth

·        Skylark*

·        Linnet*

·        Red-tipped cudweed

·        Argent and sable Moth

·        Great Crested Newt*

·        Song thrush*

 

Acid Grassland

·        High Brown Frittillary Butterfly

·        Range Upperwing Moth

·        Skylark*

·        Hornet Robberfly*

·        Nightjar*

·        Red-tipped cudweed

·        Woodlark*

·        Great crested Newt*

·        Song Thrush*

Old Orchards

·        Noble Chafer*

·        Bullfinch*

·        Song Thrush*

 

7  SUMMARY OF BIODIVERSITY PRIORITY SPECIES

Of the above, the priority species know to be present in the Forest of Dean District can be summarised to include:

·      Allis Shad*

·      Twaite Shad*

·      Freshwater Pearl Mussel*

·      Freshwater Pea Mussel*

·      Depressed River Mussel*

·      Great Crested Newt*

·      European Otter*

·      Water Vole*

·      Brown Hare*

·      Bullfinch*

·      Corn Bunting*

·      Linnet*

·      Nightjar*

·      Reed Bunting*

·      Skylark*

·      Song Thrush*

·      Spotted Flycatcher*

·      Tree Sparrow*

·      Turtle Dove*

·      Woodlark*

·      Barbastelle Bat*

·      Bechstein’s Bat*

·      Greater Horseshoe Bat*

·      Lesser Horseshoe Bat*

·      Pipistrelle Bat*

·      Bumblebees*

·      Stag Beetle*

·      Devil’s Bolete*

·      Red Wood ant*

·      Cranefly – lipsothrix nervosa*

·      Noble Chafer*

·      Juniper*

·      True-fox Sedge*

It is worth noting that the above list does not include species such as Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus).  This is because although the area is noted for them, and they visit in large numbers, in terms of their overall population in the world they are not classed as an endangered or rare species at present (i.e. They do not merit an entry in the “Red Book”.)

TABLE 1

INTERNATIONALLY DESIGNATED SPECIAL PROTECTED AREA SITES IN THE FOREST OF DEAN DISTRICT 

Special Protected Areas

Site Name

Site Location

Features/Designation

Status

Severn Estuary

Including the Upper Severn

The site occupies the whole of the River Severn along the eastern edge of the Forest of Dean district, downstream from a point 1.5 kilometres north of Awre.

Classified in 1995 as 2 SPAs, and now combined as a candidate SAC, it consists of a large esturial area with extensive intertidal mud/sans-flats, rocky platforms and islands, It is edged with saltmarshes backed by grazing marsh and a mixture of freshwater and brackish ditches.  The area is internationally important because it experiences the second highest tidal range in the world that is key to the phenomenon known as the “Severn Bore”. The intertidal regime results in plant and animal communities typical of those that exist under extreme physical conditions. Although these are species poor in invertebrates there are high densities of ragworms, lugworms, and other inverebrates all of which form important food sources for on passage and wintering of water birds such as swans, ducks and waders. Inter nationally designated under the RAMSAR Convention and as a NATURA 2000 site, the intertidal zone is also of international importance for the survival of migratory waders during their Spring and Autumn.

The site’s future well being is very dependent upon the quality of the water present in the River Severn.  Factors that influence this are effluent discharges, fertiliser run-off, and pollution incidents (e.g. oil spillages).  Other risks to the fauna and flora of the site include aggregates dredging, and civil/mechanical engineering projects that were of sufficient magnitude to affect the current equilibrium hydro and ecological dynamics of the River Severn.     

Walmore Common

Situated in the lowland region of Parish of Westbury-on-Severn, 2 kilometres north east of the village.

Cited an SPA in 1991, and more recently designated a European NATURA 2000 wildlife site, Walmore Common occupies a low-lying area in the Severn Vale that is subjected to annual winter flooding. The site overlies the only significant area of peat in Gloucestershire. The habitats represented include neutral unimproved and improved grassland bisected with open water ditches, and a wide range of other wetland flora. It qualifies under the RAMSAR convention in that it regularly supports internationally important numbers of Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii).  In addition, large flocks of other water birds such as ducks and waders also visit the site in winter both to feed and roost.

The well being of the site is dependent upon the maintenance of correct water level management, and the main risk to it is over drainage. Other risks are pollution, from industrial and farming businesses within the site’s water catchment area. Urbanisation in the surrounding area would also lead to degradation and loss of wildlife corridors to and from the site.