The Ridgeway: Baseline Biodiversity Assessment

TVERC survey team

TVERC worked with National Trails and North Wessex Downs AONB to undertake a baseline biodiversity assessment of the Ridgeway: from Avebury to Streatley including 29.7 ha of lowland calcareous grassland. 18.4 ha are already designated Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and an additional area of 0.5ha was identified as likely to be of County interest. This area was proposed and accepted as an Oxfordshire LWS.

6344 species records were made for over 330 different species including 307 plants and incidental sightings for a small number of other species including invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. 134 records for protected and notable species were added including four ‘England red list – vulnerable’ species - sainfoin, basil thyme, white helleborine and chicory; and ten ‘England red list - near threatened’ species - quaking grass, carline thistle, harebell, field scabious, devil’s-bit scabious, spiny restharrow, crosswort, eyebright, hoary plantain and common rockrose. 

Overall a good range of typical and indicator species for lowland calcareous grassland were recorded (with 32 indicator species and 21 typical species).

This project has identified 28 locations covering 10.5ha where there is priority grassland habitat that would be valuable to maintain and 115 locations totalling 33.4 ha for potential restoration through additional management. These include 53 considered to be of high priority and 62 of medium priority.

With a bit of extra attention, some sections of The Ridgeway National Trail have potential to be enhanced for their biodiversity interest. Targeted conservation management could really increase the number of wildflowers and insects along the Trail.