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Special Areas of Conservation

West Dorset Alder Woods

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Dorset and Somerset
Centroid* SY538968
Latitude 50.76833333
Longitude -2.655
SAC EU Code UK0030299
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 329.06
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of West Dorset Alder Woods SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (4%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (15%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (3%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (5%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (10%)
  • Improved grassland (1%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (60%)
  • Coniferous woodland (2%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (PDF <100kb)

Note 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

  • 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

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

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.