This report details the findings of a dead wood (saproxylic) invertebrate survey carried out under contract to Natural England (NE). A saproxylic invertebrate assemblage survey was required to underpin NE’s biodiversity evidence base for Nettlecombe Park Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The site is located in the Brendon Hills, in the eastern part of the Exmoor National Park. Nettlecombe Park lies in west Somerset (Watsonian vice county 5, South Somerset), the location of which is shown on Figure 1.1. The survey area is privately owned and comprises an area of parkland and woodland.
Nettlecombe Park has been notified as a SSSI for its important lichen flora and invertebrate fauna. It lies in a valley which runs north-south on the northern fringes of the Brendon Hills. A central grid reference for the site approximates to ST055373. Records suggest it has been wood-pasture or parkland for at least 400 years. There are some very old oak pollards which may be of this age or older. The oldest standard trees are certainly over 200 years of age. The long continuity of open woodland and parkland with veteran trees has encouraged the development of very biodiverse assemblages of epiphytic lichens and saproxylic invertebrates (mainly beetles), the majority of which are associated with the mature and over-mature trees. Many of these species are now nationally rare or scarce, because this type of habitat has been eliminated over large areas of Great Britain. The high ecological interest outlined above resulted in the notification of Nattlecombe Park as a SSSI in 1990.
Oak is much the most frequent veteran tree and there are also significant numbers of over-mature/veteran beech, sycamore, sweet chestnut and ash. As elsewhere, the latter species shows clear evidence of attack by ash dieback disease and it is likely that the majority of ash trees will die over the next decade.