West Dorset Alder Woods

Site details

UK map showing location of West Dorset Alder Woods Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of West Dorset Alder Woods SAC/SCI/cSAC


When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

91E0 Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)  * Priority feature
Mixed ash-alder Fraxinus excelsior - Alnus glutinosa woods are a characteristic feature of the sinuous valley woods developed along the headwaters of alkaline streams and seepages having their origin in the chalk downland and issuing from the underlying Upper Greensand at its junction with the Gault Clay. The woods vary from those with greater tussock-sedge Carex paniculata, remote sedge C. remota, hemlock water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata, opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium and alternate-leaved golden-saxifrage C. alternifolium, to transitions to drier oak-ash woodland with ramsons Allium ursinum. Several of the component sites are associated with valley mires with transitions to fen, reedswamp, fen meadow and acid grassland. Characteristic features of the woods are the shallow silty peats and tufa deposits which support an important assemblage of specialised invertebrates. The streams have natural meanders, back channels and debris dams, features that are otherwise rare in the lowlands. Ancient stands of ash-alder woodland have developed some ‘old growth’ characteristics with associated old forest lichens.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

6410 Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae)
9190 Old acidophilous oak woods with Quercus robur on sandy plains

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

1065 Marsh fritillary butterfly  Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia
This is a large area of grassland/scrub mosaic with an extensive flushed grassland and fen component. The marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia population is small but stable and has the potential to expand over a wide area of favourable habitat.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

1166 Great crested newt  Triturus cristatus

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