Ecology Report

Ecology Report on Open Access Land, Litton Frith 15.7.22

The southern fields (teepee and dew pond area) are on a steep slope with taller vegetation of a neutral character but with several species normally found on base rich/calcareous soils, for example the greater burnet saxifrage. The grassland is becoming rank, with scrub spreading into the grassland. It has a dense litter layer and so few colonisation gaps for other species to move in. It is possible that in the past the cattle spent less time on the grassland here than in the field to the north beyond the old wall and it would benefit from further grazing. There is a definite wetland/damp grassland feel with the abundance of meadowsweet, angelica and greater bird's-foot trefoil.

The second, more northern field beyond the old wall, is generally flatter at the top with a shorter sward. On the Eastern slope, east of the steep path, there is a much more markedly calcareous feel as indicated by the additional species recorded, the vast majority of which are generally only found on calcareous grasslands. It is a shorter grassland, with gaps in the sward and more opportunities for grassland species to colonise the area. The vegetation is more typical of the steeper limestone dales. Here the orchids can be found in the early part of the summer.

Although not outstanding botanically the fields have together many of the species you would expect on a limestone dale side and are a valuable resource and addition to the diversity of the dale and the habitats found there. Their loss would therefore affect the flora and fauna abundance and distribution across the dale

Key to following table: D=Dominant, A=Abundant, F=Frequent, O=Occasional, R=Rare, L=Locally

Cressbrook Dale Grasslands 15th July 2022