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Hornsleasow Roughs - Unit 1

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Staff member responsible for SSSI unit: Paul Hackman
Unit ID: 1013727
Unit area: 29 hectares
Main habitat: Calcareous grassland - lowland
Condition:   Favourable
Latest assessment date: 04 July 2011
Condition assessment comment: The CG3-5 grassland and scrub habitats were assessed but the vascular plant assemblage was only partly assessed due to the time of the year (most had gone over). Positive indicators (Freq. 10, Occ. 2 and Rare 5) and the herb ratio (69%) were high. There was very little in the way of negative indicators or young scrub in the sward, and sward height (7 cm), litter (<5%) and bare ground (5%) were also favourable. In fact, the variable amounts of tussocky grass, short sward and bare ground were thought to be ideal for the range of species known to be present. Although some butterfly food plant species (kidney vetch, horseshoe vetch) were only rarely seen at the stops, they were present in patches. Orchid species are considered as quality indicators at this site but were rarely seen (a few pyramidal and fragrant orchids). This may be the time of year for some species (burnt, green-winged, early purple orchids) or may indicate a poor flowering year for others (pyramidal, common spotted, fragrant orchids). This should be monitored on the next assessment. The vascular plant assemblage consists of mainly early flowers but there was still evidence of pasque-flower leaves and early gentian spikes (see map). These should be assessed fully in May. Although there was little evidence of young scrub in the open grassland at the stops (which is positive and indicates adequate grazing pressure), there is still plenty of scrub on the site as a whole for the nesting redstarts (at least two seen) and the rare jewel beetle. A certain amount of young scrub is required to provide future replacement old scrub and as an important feature of the grassland in its own right. On balance the scrub is about right although in places it might need to monitored and possibly removed to prevent shading valuable grassland and aiding the movement of stock around the site.
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