Map 11. Tytherley and Langley Woods
This is a highly wooded landscape situated on distinct bands of sand and clay in the north and south, and separated in the middle by an area of chalk on which areas of calcareous grassland occur. The northern section of this Area comprises the Tytherley Forest, an area of broadleaved mixed deciduous woodland that is well known for its abundance of butterfly species. In the southern half is Langley Woods and the tip of the New Forest which collectively form the New Forest SAC and are characterised by abundant acid woodland, together with heathland and bog habitats. Remnants of traditional common land used for grazing are still evident and are closely associated with villages in this area. Two tributaries of the River Test; Blackwater River and the River Dunn, both rise in this Area and flow east to join the River Test in Hampshire.
Priorities and opportunities for landscape-scale conservation
Priorities and opportunities for the landscape-scale conservation of priority habitats and species within each of the Strategic Nature Areas (SNAs) in Upper Thames Landscape Biodiversity Area. Priorities and opportunities are detailed under the Strategic Nature Area main priority habitat types present in this Area, with priorities for associated habitats and species listed underneath these:
- Ancient Woodland
- Mosaic of heath, bog and wet habitats
- Woodland butterflies
2. Rivers and streams
3. Lowland Calcareous Grassland
There are extensive areas of ancient woodland types within Area 11, with over 2000 ha of this habitat recorded in the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI). The largely wooded character of this Landscape Biodiversity Area is the result of large tracts of ancient woodland types concentrated around two main blocks, the Tytherley Woods in the north and Langley Woods and the New Forest in the south. These woods are well known for their rich and varied woodland which support a wealth of rare butterflies, birds and lichens. Extensive, continuous woodland management is required to maintain the diversity of these woodlands. Issues include loss of edge and glade habitats, lack of regenerations resulting from increased deer grazing pressure and encroachment by invasive species. Whilst woodland areas have suffered from over-grazing, under-grazing is an issue with some of the wood pastures and meadows which intersperse these woodlands. Priorities for this habitat include:
• Buffer / extend ancient woodland sites with appropriate new woodland planting
• Improve connectivity between ancient woodland sites through hedgerow and woodland planting, and integrate them into the wider landscape
• Manage wood pastures through grazing options in agri-environment schemes
• Promote conversion of plantation woodlands to a more natural mix of deciduous woodland species of diverse age and structure
• Introduce appropriate deer management to encourage regeneration of woodland understorey.
• Promote the application of England Woodland Grant Schemes to conserve and enhance remaining areas of natural and semi-natural woodland.
• Ensure that work undertaken within and adjacent to the New Forest should complement the aims of the New Forest Action Plan for Biodiversity and coordinate with other current cross-border biodiversity initiatives.
Mosaic of heath, bog and wet habitats
In this south eastern corner of the county the underlying geology of clay and acidic top soils has resulted in damp, boggy conditions which support areas of wet grassland, bog and wet heath. These habitats are increasingly rare within Wiltshire and southern England at large as a result of drainage, ploughing and the increased application of fertilisers and herbicides. This mosaic of habitats represent remaining fragments of common land and open habitats, primarily maintained through sustainable grazing and a range of management practices including cutting and burning of vegetation. These habitats are present generally as small, fragmented patches scattered throughout the woodlands which are extremely vulnerable to changes in land use and hydrology, as well as succession to woodland where management is lacking. Priorities for these habitats include:
• Promote the uptake of agri-environment and woodland schemes to maintain the mosaic of heath, bog and wet habitats through appropriate grazing management.
• Take steps to maintain the hydrology of wet heath, bog and purple moor grass sites to ensure that there is no loss of priority habitats characteristic of these wet soils. • Conserve and augment the mosaic of heathland, bog and other wet habitats within the New Forest National Park where it overlaps the Wiltshire boundary and in adjacent areas as opportunity presents.
• Complement the grazed commons work of the New Forest National Park by augmenting across the border into Wiltshire wherever appropriate
• Maintain favourable management of ponds and open water to promote use by amphibians including Great- crested newts.
Existing projects and initiatives
New Forest Park Authority – The New Forest National Park Authority has produced New Forest: An action plan for biodiversity which considers the state of nature at present and sets out the objectives and strategic actions required to conserve and enhance biodiversity to 2020. In addition to this a Landscape Action Plan for the New Forest National Park has recently been submitted for consultation which sets out proposals on how to look after the landscape, conserve its history and wildlife, and help plan for its future. There are important strategic opportunities to extend the New Forest and the grazing resource it supports could be a key tool for improving grassland management in southern Wiltshire if the right economic and management linkages could be made between landowners and the local Commoning community. In addition to this the New Forest Land Advice Service can assist landowners in applying for agri-environment grants and other sources of funding.
The Deer Initiative – In both the Tytherley and Langley Woods there is considerable deer grazing pressure. In places this has led to reduced regeneration of understorey and ground flora which ultimately will reduce the biodiversity of the woodlands. It is a priority to establish appropriate deer management regimes to allow the woodland structure to recover. The Deer Initiative has worked with Butterfly Conservation in Bentley Woods as part of the South East Woodland Project to try and reduce deer numbers. With funding to this project now finished it is important to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to manage deer numbers across the woodlands of Area 11.
The Tytherley and Langley Woods are noted for their abundance and diversity of woodland butterflies including a number of priority species such as the Duke of Burgundy, Marsh fritillary and the Purple Emperor. Bentley Wood to the east of Salisbury is a large, mixed woodland and is nationally recognised for its importance as a site for butterflies. Significant efforts have been undertaken here by Butterfly Conservation, the Forestry Commission and Natural England to implement management options to enhance the woodlands for butterfly species. This management needs to be maintained and similar management implemented across the Tytherley and Langley Woods to ensure that woodlands are in a favourable condition for butterflies. Priorities for woodland butterflies include:
• Secure suitable management to enhance woodlands for butterflies including widening of woodland rides and selective thinning at woodland edges, in line with Butterfly Conservation’s South East Woodlands Project
• Continue to monitor the impacts of these management measures on butterfly and other woodland species.
• Improve connectivity between woodland sites, particularly where known populations of priority woodland butterflies exist, to allow the movement of individuals between populations and help species move in relation to climate change.
Existing projects and initiatives
Butterfly Conservation’s three year funded ‘South East Woodlands Project’ - This project aimed to reinvigorate woodland management in key woodland sites across the Southeast and halt the loss of rare woodland species such as the Marsh Fritillary and the Purple Emperor. This project came to an end in 2010 and therefore it is important not to lose the beneficial management measures put in place through this period. It is also important to continue to monitor the impact that these management measures have had on the butterfly and woodland species in order to apply these findings elsewhere.
2. Rivers and Streams
The rivers Blackwater and Dunn, both tributaries of the River Test, represent the two significant areas of running water priority habitat in Area 11. The River Test to the east has experienced a long history of modification and the last assessments by Natural England in 2012 showed the river to be in unfavourable condition and failing to meet objectives set by the Water Framework Directive. Issues include inappropriate water levels, siltation, water pollution - agriculture/run off, water pollution – discharge. As tributaries of the River Test it is important to ensure that the Rivers Dunn and Blackwater are managed to maintain water quality and riparian habitats, reducing negative impacts on the river system down steam in the River Test. Wiltshire Council has identified opportunities for wet grassland buffering and extension around the Rivers, especially around Alderbury. Priorities for this habitat include:
• Retain, buffer and extend areas of wet grassland around the River Dunn and River Blackwater.
• Support catchment scale projects which contribute towards achieving Natura 2000 objectives for the River Avon SSSI and help meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive to achieve ‘good ecological status’ of water bodies by 2015.
• Encourage the take up of capital grants available for the Blackwater and Dun catchments under the Catchment Sensitive Farming scheme to reduce agricultural and pesticide runoff, reduce soil erosion by livestock and vehicles, and halt river sedimentation from runoff
• Work with riparian landowners to implement sympathetic management, particularly restoration & enhancement works, to restore natural processes to the river and enhance resilience to climate change.
• Co-ordinated monitoring of rivers to identify presence of invasive plants and signs of pollution incidents affecting riverine fauna and flora
Existing conservation projects and initiatives
River Test and Itchen River Restoration Plan - The Environment Agency and Natural England are developing a restoration strategy for these rivers to identify the required works, or improved management, to improve the physical habitat condition of the rivers.
Catchment Sensitive Farming - The Rivers Test and Itchen are designated as a Priority Catchment as part of the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) scheme, with a CSF Capital Grant Scheme Target Area encompassing the Rivers Dun and Blackwater. Capital grants are available in this target area for work to reduce agricultural and pesticide runoff in watercourses, limit physical damage to soil caused by livestock and vehicles, and halt sedimentation from runoff. Further buffering of these important chalk streams can be achieved by improving management of riparian habitat, including the control of non-native invasive plant species which should be coordinated with the provision of some replacement planting or specialist management to encourage a more appropriate flora.
The woodlands of South East Wiltshire are particularly important for a wide range of bat species, supported by a rich mosaic of habitats including woodland, wood pasture, wet woodland, purple moor grass pasture and woodland ponds. However, very little monitoring data is available on these areas and it is likely that important roost sites of rare and endangered woodland species are likely to be in this area. Priorities for this species group include:
• Collect baseline data on bat activity within the area and identify and map important roosting sites and foraging grounds for the rarest species
• Maintain mature and veteran trees, particularly those known to be used for roosting
• Identify and favourably manage next generation of mature/veteran trees
• Manage existing hedgerows and woodland used for foraging and commuting routes
• Hedgerow planting and woodland creation to improve connectivity between key roosting/foraging sites
• Maintaining the important mosaic of woodland, grassland and open water habitats which help support the rich diversity of bat species
3. Lowland calcareous grassland
The chalk downland between the Tytherley and Langley Woods is important for its lowland calcareous grassland, juniper scrub and yew woodland, as well as a number of species with restricted ranges which are characteristic of these habitats. Under-grazing on some sites has led to encroachment by scrub whilst overgrazing on others has resulted in a lack of juniper scrub regeneration. Appropriate grazing management should maintain a dynamic mosaic of rich mixed scrub habitat of varying ages and species with calcareous grassland and woodland which can offer a variety of surfaces and features for invertebrates, together with overwinter cover and abundant nectar sources (NE condition assessment 2010).Priorities for this habitat include:
• Implement / increase grazing on under grazed calcareous grassland sites via agri-environment schemes to improve sward composition and control scrub.
• Establish new stands of juniper on chalk grassland with appropriate grazing management regime and where this is failing – consolidate through planting.
• Target conservation actions in areas where the data suggest appropriate habitat creation or restoration might provide the best contribution to enhancing ecological connectivity.