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Strawberry Banks - Unit 1

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Staff member responsible for SSSI unit: Paul Hackman
Unit ID: 1016010
Unit area: 5 hectares
Main habitat: Calcareous grassland - lowland
Condition:   Favourable
Latest assessment date: 07 July 2011
Condition assessment comment: The site is notified for its CG5 grassland and the marsh fritillary butterfly and the assessment was a combined SSSI and HLS one. The site consists of two fields with typical species-rich grassland on the slopes and a mosaic of species-rich grassland and longer less species-rich grassland (probably associated with thicker soils) along the valley bottom. The valley bottom (including the longer less species-rich grassland) is important for the devil’s bit scabious and vegetation structure of importance for the marsh fritillary butterfly. The extent of the CG5 grassland and the area suitable for marsh fritillary is roughly the same. The positive indicators (13 Frequent and 5 Occasional) were higher than in the last assessment (in 2005) as was the herb ratio (63%). The negative indicators (none) and bare ground (5%) were also favourable and similar to the last assessment. As before, the litter (25%) and scrub in the sward (5%) were borderline favourable. The structure of the vegetation for the marsh fritillary on the lower slopes seems to be very suitable with hundreds of caterpillars emerging this summer. This has led to a temporary reduction in the food plant (devil’s-bit scabious). Management recommendations Hardy pony grazing has taken over from cattle grazing which had become difficult to arrange and the site had some low graze years. The site is now in HLS and the following is recommended: •Further scrub management is required, in particular on the upper slopes •The grass litter is borderline and may reduce gradually through regular pony grazing. However, a few years of cattle grazing if possible would be more likely to remove the grass litter build up.
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