Factsheet for Savernake Forest IPA

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Site Code

Country: United Kingdom

Central coordinates: 51.38333333o [51o 22' 59" North], -1.66666667o [1o 40' 0" West]

Administrative region: South West (North Wiltshire)

Area: 848 ha

Altitude: 153 - 201

Site Description
Savernake Forest is an extensive area of ancient woodland with over one thousand years of documented history. One of the largest woods in Wiltshire, it harbours an outstanding lichen flora and a wide variety of other plants, including species with nationally restricted distributions. Relics of the ancient wood pasture remain, represented by the distinctive open crowned specimens of sessile and pedunculate oak which are scattered throughout the site. Eighteenth and early nineteenth century plantations of beech and oak have now assumed a semi-natural structure but the Forest consists mainly of twentieth century beech or oak plantation. These stands are supplemented by naturally regenerated silver birch, ash, downy birch, rowan and willows. Wych elm, field maple, holly and midland hawthorn also occur and hazel is locally frequent in the former coppice areas. Hawthorn is abundant and, like blackthorn, forms stands of scrub in the open spaces where it is a valuable nectar resource for deadwood insects.

Botanical Significance
Lichens interest. Woodland mosses and liverworts are well represented and include Dicranum montanum, Frullania tamariscii and the nationally scarce liverwort F. fragilifolia. The site also supports an outstanding lichen flora with over one hundred species, among them several characteristic of old forests, for example, Parmelia crinita, P. reddenda, Arthonia didyma and the rare Caloplaca herbidella which was first recorded from Savernake.The exceptional diversity of fungi in the Forest, with well over 500 species, can generally be attributed to the continuity of the beech woodland, the presence of unimproved grassland areas and the abundance of decaying wood. Several uncommon species of Lepiota have been found, as well as an impressive range of other fungi.

Management guidance notes

Lichen interest