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IPA Factsheet - Salisbury Plain, Cranborne Chase and Pewsey Downs
Site code
CountryUnited Kingdom
Administrative regionSouth East (North Hampshire, South Hampshire), South West (Dorset, North Wiltshire, South Wiltshire)
Central co-ordinates51o 14' N / 2o 2' W map
Area20010
Altitude81 - 135
 

 Site Description Salisbury Plain in central southern England is believed to be the largest surviving semi-natural dry grassland within the EU and is therefore the most important site for this habitat in the UK. Cranborne Chase derives from an ancient hunting forest, and includes remnants of enclosed medieval coppice, commonland wood pasture and 19th century hazel plantation. To the south, Cranborne Chase with its smooth rounded downs, steeply cut combes and dry valleys shows a typical chalk landscape. To the north, the topography of the Wiltshire Downs is more varied and broken, with shapely knolls and whaleback ridges. Both areas are fringed on the west by an impressive scarp, cresting above the adjoining clay vales. Traditional downland pasture is now largely confined to steeper slopes but large rectangular fields emphasise the chalkland's open character. The chalkland valleys of the Wylye, Nadder and Stour are mainly in permanent pasture, with many copses and hedgerows. In the northwest, the AONB's sandstone fringe of wooded ridges and valleys includes rich parklands such as Longleat and Stourhead.

 Botanical Significance Salisbury Plain: Habitat interest. Juniperus communis formations on heaths or calcareous grasslands. Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies: on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia). It supports extensive examples of CG3 Bromus erectus grassland and the rare CG7 Festuca ovina Hieracium pilosella Thymus praecox grassland, and one of the largest examples of CG6 Avenula pubescens grassland. The site supports the largest UK population of the nationally scarce burnt orchid Orchis ustulata, together with significant populations of green-winged orchid Orchis morio and frog orchid Coeloglossum viride, both uncommon orchids associated with calcareous grassland.Salisbury Plain is the best remaining example in the UK of lowland juniper Juniperus communis scrub on chalk. The juniper is juxtaposed with extensive 6210 semi-natural dry grassland and chalk heath. Most of the scrub is of the southern mixed scrub type and is enriched by roses Rosa spp., wild privet Ligustrum vulgare, dogwood Cornus sanguinea, wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana and other species characteristic of the type. Cranborne Chase Epiphytic and other lichens, Ash/maple woodland, Coppice woodland, chalk downland flora. The ground flora is exceptionally rich in plants closely associated with ancient woodland. The Chase is one of the richest sites for lichens in southern England, with over 160 lichens recorded. Thirteen species are rare in Britain, including Pannaria conoplea, a lichen associated with ancient woodland in the oceanic climate of western Britain, Sticta sylvatica which grows on mossy tree trunks largely in the north and west, and Usnea articulata, a formerly widespread species which is extremely susceptible to sulphur dioxide pollution and now virtually confined to the south-west. Prescombe Down is one of three sites selected in the central part of the range for early gentian Gentianella anglica. It holds very significant populations of hundreds of thousands of plants in high-quality chalk grassland that has been sympathetically managed for many years.

 General Habitat Description Salisbury Plain: Grassland and tall forb Cranborne Chase: Grassland, Woodland and forest, regularly cultivated agriculture

Land use

Land use% CoverLevel
militaryMajor
nature conservation and researchMajor
agriculture (arable)Major
agriculture (animals)Major
tourism/recreationMajor
forestryMajor

Threatened Species

Species NameIPA Assess.Species Assess.AbundanceData qualityCriteria

Botanical Richness

EUNIS level 2 code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.% of indicator speciesNo. SpeciesNational BiotopeData qualityCriteria
E1 Dry Grasslands2012201200unknownB
G1 Broadleaved deciduous woodland201220120217unknownB

Threatened Habitats

IPA Habitat code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.AreaData qualityCriteria
5130 Juniperus communis formations on heaths or calcareous grasslands201220120unknownCii
6210(*) Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates(Festuco-Brometalia)20120unknownCi

Protection

DesignationProtected Area NameRelationship with IPAOverlap with IPA
National Nature ReservePewsey Downsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
National Nature ReserveParsonage Downprotected area contained by IPA276
National Nature ReserveWylye Downprotected area contained by IPA34
National Nature ReservePrescombe Downprotected area contained by IPA47
Special Area of ConservationPrescombe Downprotected area contained by IPA76
National Nature ReserveMartin Downprotected area contained by IPA341
Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyCranborne Chase & West Wiltshire Downs protected area overlaps with IPA0
Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyNorth Wessex Downsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestPentridge Downprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestRotherley Downs protected area overlaps with IPA17
Site of Special Scientific InterestWinklebury Hillprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestBowerchalke Downsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestWin Green Downprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestWin Green Downprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestPincombe Downprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestCranborne Chaseprotected area overlaps with IPA351
Site of Special Scientific InterestLower Coombe & Ferne Brook Meadowsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestHandcocks Bottomprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestMartin & Tidpit Downsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestBoulsbury Woodprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestOakhills Coppiceprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestMoors River Systemprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestKnighton Down & Woodprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestFontmell & Melbury Downs protected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestChickengrove Bottomprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestSutton Combeprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestGallows Hillprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Special Area of ConservationFontmell & Melbury Downs protected area overlaps with IPA0
National Nature ReserveHambledon Hillprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Special Protection AreaSalisbury Plainprotected area contains IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestSalisbury Plainprotected area contains IPA19660
UnknownSalisbury Plain Life Projectunknown0
Special Area of ConservationPewsey Downsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestParsonage Downprotected area overlaps with IPA187
Site of Special Scientific InterestWylye & Church Dean Downsprotected area overlaps with IPA80
Site of Special Scientific InterestSteeple Langford Downprotected area overlaps with IPA24
Site of Special Scientific InterestScratchbury & Cotley Hillsprotected area overlaps with IPA53
Site of Special Scientific InterestGreat Cheverell Hillprotected area overlaps with IPA34

Management

TypeDescriptionYear startedYear finishes
Other Management PlanCranborne Chase & West Wiltshire Downs AONB manage20092014
Other Management PlanNorth Wessex Downs AONB management plan20092014
EU Agri-environment schemeSouth Wessex Downs ESA2014
EU Agri-environment schemeES (ELS & HLS) agreement/s
OtherEnglish Woodland Grant Scheme contract/s
OtherEnglish Woodland Grant Scheme contract/s
Protected Area Management PlanSite Management Statements/ Conservation Objective
Protected Area Management PlanManagement plans of all named NNRs in IPA
Protected Area Management PlanConservation Objectives for Natura 2000 sites (SAC
Habitat Action Plan (HAP)Lowland Calcareous Grassland HAP
Habitat Action Plan (HAP)Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland HAP
Species Management PlanUK BAP Priority species (S41) that have SAPs and/o
OtherLocal Wildlife Site management agreement

Threats

ThreatImportance
abandonment/reduction of land managementmedium
agricultural intensification/expansion (arable)low
agricultural intensification/expansion (grazing)low
agricultural intensification/expansion (grazing)low
climate change/ sea level risemedium
consequences of invasive species (plant)medium
eutrophicationhigh
development (recreation/tourism)low
foresty (intensified forest management)low
forestry (afforestation)low
forestry (deforestation)low
habitat fragmentation/isolationmedium
intrinsic species factors (slow growth, density)medium
otherlow

 Conservation Issues Cotoneaster integrifolius has been known at Fontmell & Melbury Downs since 1991. - Inability to adapt to climate change due to past arable conversion causing habitat fragmentation and reducing extent of resource. - Lack of grazing on the scarp slopes leading to the development of coarse grassland and scrub encroachment. - Decrease in habitat quality due to application of artificial fertilizers, probably exacerbated by aerial nitrogen deposition. - The IPA core areas are distant from one another and some barriers are insurmountable e.g. Salisbury city - The extent of the IPA is difficult to define due to neighboring areas of species-rich chalk grassland e.g. Porton Down.

Contact Information

ContactContact Type
Tim WilkinsSite report compiler