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Site Details

1 Ravensroost Wood Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Ravensroost is large area of SSSI woodland with a wealth of plant, bird and insect life. It is managed mainly as ‘coppice with standards’, which means having a continuous cover of coppiced hazel stools between more widely spaced oak trees. Wild Service Tree and Bitter Vetch are two of the special plant species in this wood.

A number of groups work in the wood and WWCV contributes by coppicing a considerable area each year. It is one of our most important sites in north Wiltshire; we celebrate this by combining a working day with a picnic party shortly before Christmas.
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2 The Firs Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

The Firs is on Wood Lane, a dog-leg between the Malmesbury and Ashton Keynes roads from Royal Wootton Bassett. There are very few fir trees; it is an oak wood!

There is a wide, damp, flowery central ride which the volunteers have maintained by cutting and raking each year. We have also created glades and coppiced the edges of the central ride. The result has been a wealth of flowers and a huge benefit to birds. Surveys have shown a big increase in the variety and numbers of birds since management started. We have also created new paths and cleared the perimeter track, and have felled non-native poplar trees.
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3 Clouts Wood Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Clouts Wood is semi-natural ancient woodland SSSI between Wroughton and the Science Museum’s site on Wroughton Aerodrome. Trees are mainly ash, oak, maple and wild cherry with a hazel understory. Its speciality plant is Spiked Star-of-Bethlehem, locally known as Bath Asparagus, with Herb Paris, Wood Vetch, Meadow Saffron and Green Hellebore as other notables.

Volunteers have reinstated the coppice cycle for the benefit of woodland plants, insects and birds. We also clear ride-sides, have built steps on the steep parts, and planted trees.
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4 Penn Wood Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Penn Wood is a high plateau just outside Calne. It is a wide area of reclaimed grassland, much of it recently planted with a mixture of native trees. There are wide flowery rides between the planting areas. A large pond is used for fishing.

The volunteers have been involved in tree care: staking, putting guards on, and clearing round young trees. We have also kept paths and rides clear by cutting back brambles and mowing.
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5 Ramsbury Meadows Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

This site was formerly a water meadow along the River Kennet and is consequently quite muddy in winter. Because of this there is a boardwalk and bridges to allow visitors to walk around the 1.2 hectare site with access to a dipping pond. Plant species include hemp agrimony, marsh marigolds, flowering rush and yellow flag iris. Insect species include ram’s horn snail, small totrtoiseshell butterflies, emperor dragonfly and blue-tailed damselfly.

The volunteers cut back scrub to keep the boardwalk clear and to prevent encroachment.
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6 Ham Hill Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Ham Hill is an 1.5 hectares area of steep banked chalk downland running alongside the road from of Ham to Buttermere, close to the Berkshire border. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the rich collection of insects and plants, some of which are quite rare. The most notable is the musk orchid (Herminium monorchis).

The volunteers have been clearing scrub and unwanted vegitation so that they do not overwhelm and crowd out the rare species of plants. This would also affect the species of insects that depend on these plants.

The site boasts seven other species of orchid as well as several other plants. It also has a colony of the Duke of Burgundy butterflies as well as the dingy skipper, green hairstreak, dark green fritillary and chalkhill blue.
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7 Jones's Mill Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

This is one of the loveliest reserves; it has a young but substantial chalk stream, the Wiltshire Avon running right through its length, there are wonderful views from the car park and good varied walking around the perimeter. On the northern edge it is bounded by the Kennet and Avon Canal, and you can walk along this, then hop back in at the other end of reserve, or stay in the reserve of course.

The SSSI site is a very wet area right in the middle with good boardwalks and a lovely jumble of trees with streams, like something from Walt Disney, and, of course, the river. It has Scarlet Elf Cap in the winter followed by all manner of flowers; King Cups, Cuckooflower, Orchids, Bog Pimpernel, masses of Yellow Rattle and many more.

We keep the open areas brush cut and cleared in early autumn. During winter we take down the occasional tree, improve and maintain the boardwalk and do plenty of coppicing and dead hedging.
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8 Clanger Wood Woodland Trust

Clanger Wood is a 150 acres Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) wood of oak, ash, birch and conifers. It is also noted for its butterflies and lizards. The wood is divided by the main ride cut north to south and the Green Lane, used in the 1800’s as access for the horses and wagons to extract timber. It has protected earth banks.

The Woodland Trust operate the wood on a 7-14 year rotation. The volunteers are given designated coupes to coppice and fell on this rotation.

There are Purple Emperor butterflies in the ride-side oak trees and there are large areas of Early Purple Orchids. A bluebell walk is sign posted in the Spring.
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9 Blackmoor Copse Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Blackmoor Copse is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland (ASNW). Within the woodland are two large compartments that are cut as coppice. These are predominately hazel and the material, called underwood, would have previously been used for making products such as sheep hurdles and thatching spars. These areas are cut on a rotation of ten to twelve years, cutting one section or coupe each year. This creates a matrix of un-even aged regrowth that is important to a wide range of plants, animals and insects.

One of the animals that this management favours is the dormouse, an increasingly rare British mammal, which is resident in Blackmoor. We also undertake ride and glade management, clearing areas of scrub and bracken to maintain ground flora. This is particularly important for wildlife especially invertebrates such as butterflies. We have two, now rare, species in Blackmoor, the Pearl Bordered Fritillary and the Purple Emperor as well as other species such as the Silver Washer Fritillary and White Admiral, amongst others.
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10 Middleton Down Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

The work that we undertake at Middleton Down is similar in many ways to that which we carry out at Coombe Bissett Down. This area of unimproved chalk downland is deeply ‘coombed’ with steep-sided short valleys, a feature of many of the hillside areas along the Ebble valley. Gorse, blackthorn, hawthorn and other tree and shrub species are present on the hillsides here which require constant cutting back to ensure that they do not overwhelm and shade out the resident native grassland species present.

The tree and shrub species are also important for birds, mammals and insects, so they also need careful management to ensure a balanced equilibrium or biodiversity on the reserve.

Livestock is also used to maintain this reserve but is carefully controlled to ensure their browsing has the desired effect in maintaining the grassland and its associated wild flower species. There are a number of orchid species on this reserve which provide a spectacular display in summer thanks, at least in part, to the work that we undertake there.
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11 Coombe Bissett Down Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

To maintain this important area of unimproved chalk downland it is grazed with livestock and managed by volunteers. Without this important intervention the grassland would eventually revert to woodland by the succession of various colonising species.

Our job is to remove encroaching tree seedlings and regeneration that would shade out the grasses and wild flower species that are a feature of this special downland. Hawthorn, blackthorn and bramble are kept in check, and where necessary tree species such as ash and non-native sycamore are removed to prevent them reseeding into the grassland.

Areas are managed on a rotational basis to ensure minimal impact and disturbance to the resident fauna and flora. The wild flowers, especially the various orchid species that are found here, and their associated insects and butterflies, are the result of this important management that we undertake.
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12 Pepperbox Hill National Trust

Pepperbox Hill is probably best known for the ‘Pepperbox’ or Eyre’s Folly. This brick tower was built in 1606 by Giles Eyre possibly as a lookout to follow the hunt. This area is of mixed chalk downland interspersed with mixed shrub and tree areas. Our role here is to help maintain this important ecological balance.

An important, and increasingly rare, native coniferous species present here is the juniper that grows along with yew, another native coniferous species. These species are relatively slow growing and juniper is particularly susceptible to being shaded out by other shrubs and trees. One of our roles is to maintain this species by managing competing trees, such as the whitebeam and sycamore, along with scrub, such as bramble and wild privet, which are removed to ensure the vitality and survival of the juniper. Juniper seedlings are now present, hopefully ensuring the survival of this species at Pepperbox.

The grassland also benefits from this management as it allows light to get to herb or grass layers and ensures the survival of the many diverse flower species present on the reserve.
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