Lowland Dry Acid Grassland

Habitat Description

Lowland dry acid grassland occurs on nutrient-poor free-draining soils, overlying acid rocks or superficial deposits such as sands and gravels. In Northamptonshire it includes the following NVC communities:

 

U1 Festuca ovina Agrostis capillaris Rumex acetosella (sheep's fescue common bent sheep's sorrel) grassland.

U4 Festuca ovina Agrostis capillaris Galium saxatile (sheep's fescue common bent heath bedstraw) grassland.

MG1 Arrhenatherum elatius (false oat-grass) grassland.

U1 mostly occurs under scrub, on road verges or where rabbit grazing causes disturbance. U4 tends to occur in damper areas where rainwater filtering through sandstone encounters a layer of clay and flushes to the surface. MG1 is typical of a long-term lack of management, with coarser grasses dominating. However, it does tend to occur on sites which have not been seeded or heavily fertilised and these habitats are often easily recoverable with the right management.

Current UK Status and Trends

Substantial decline; less than 30,000 ha remaining. Severe decline in specialist species within sites.

Estimated Current Northants Resource

Approximately 200 ha.

Progress Towards BAP Targets 2002-2007

Initial scoping study to identify priority potential areas for habitat restoration and creation (see Figure AG2). Maintenance of current resource on Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves by grazing management.

Main Issues and Threats

  • Very little remaining in Northamptonshire. Much is isolated in small fragments, dangerously reducing species' population sizes and making it impossible for individuals to move between them.
  • Additional loss of habitat to development.
  • Inappropriate management (e.g. improving soils with nutrients, overgrazing/over-mowing, mowing without removing the cuttings).
  • Lack of management (e.g. under-grazing).

General Strategy

  • Specific target areas include a 3-mile radius of High Wood, south of the town of Daventry, and the northwest area of Northampton around Harlestone Firs.
  • Sympathetic management and restoration of existing sites, funded primarily through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (Advice can be provided by The Wildlife Trust, RNRP or FWAG).

Lead Partner

The Wildlife Trust 

Associated National Priority Species

  • Basil thyme
  • Deep-brown dart (moth)
  • Dusky brocade (moth)
  • Ear moth
  • Hedge rustic (moth)
  • Sky lark
  • Small heath butterfly
  • The forester (moth)

Targets

Target Code

Target Type

Target Description

Target Units

Northants Baseline Resource

Target

By

Unit Cost £

Total Cost £

NOR_LAG_T1

Maintain Extent

Maintain the current extent of at least LWS-standard Lowland Dry Acid Grassland.

Hectares

220

No Loss

2015

200/ha/yr

44,000/yr

NOR_LAG_T2

Restoration

Restore 20 ha of Lowland Dry Acid Grassland to LWS-standard from semi-improved or neglected grassland by 2015.

Hectares

0

20

2015

830/ha

16,600 initial

NOR_LAG_T3

Expansion

Establish 10 ha of LWS-standard Lowland Dry Acid Grassland from arable, improved grassland and coniferous plantation by 2015.

Hectares

0

10

2015

920/ha + 280/ha/yr

9,200 initial + 2,800/yr

Actions

Action Code

Action Description

Lead Partner

Support Partner(s)

Related Target

NOR_LAG_HS_A1

Maintain 6.5 ha of acid grassland in the meadows at High Wood and Ramsden.

The Wildlife Trust

 

NOR_LAG_T1

NOR_LAG_HS_A2

Identify Local Wildlife Sites that contain acid grassland within the South Daventry target areas and provide maintenance and enhancement advice to landowners.

NBRC/Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership

 

NOR_LAG_T1 & T2

NOR_LAG_HC_A3

Identify Local Wildlife Sites within the South Daventry acid grassland target areas with potential to form acid grassland and target these for restoration/creation.

NBRC/Northamptonshire Biodiversity Partnership

 

NOR_LAG_T2

NOR_LAG_HC_A4

Restore 1 ha of coniferous plantation in Lings Wood to LWS acid grassland standard on by 2015.

The Wildlife Trust

 

NOR_LAG_T2

NOR_LAG_HC_A5

Restore 1ha of acid grassland at Sywell Country Park by grazing management by 2010.

NCC

The Wildlife Trust

NOR_LAG_T2

NOR_LAG_HC_A6

Through section 106 agreements/new developments ensure that 8.5 ha of semi-improved or neglected grassland within an acid grassland target area is restored to LWS acid grassland standard.

Local Authorities (Daventry District Council/South Northants Council)

The Wildlife Trust

NOR_LAG_T2

NOR_LAG_HC_A7

Restore 9.5 ha of semi-improved or neglected grassland to LWS standard acid grassland through the implementation of improved management.

Natural England

FWAG

RNRP

NOR_LAG_T2

NOR_LAG_HC_A8

Establish 2 ha of LWS standard acid grassland within 3 miles of High Wood by 2015.

The Wildlife Trust

 

NOR_LAG_T3

NOR_LAG_HC_A9

Create 4 ha of LWS standard acid grassland through section 106 agreements/new developments from arable land or improved grassland sites by 2015.

Local Authorities (Daventry District Council/South Northants Council)

The Wildlife Trust

NOR_LAG_T4

NOR_LAG_HC_A10

Create 4 ha of LWS standard acid grassland through agri-environment or other grant schemes from arable land or improved grassland by 2015.

Natural England

RNRP

FWAG

NOR_LAG_T4