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Habitat Management

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Ballyannan Wood: Small-scale Nature Conservation Management Proposals

Open Space Management



Ballyannan Wood contains a reasonable amount of open space. However, this tends to be almost exclusively dominated by bramble. Grassy open spaces with tall forbs (e.g., hogweed, meadowsweet) would create more breeding habitat for various hoverfly species as well as increasing the floral resources available for adult hoverflies to feed on. Open spaces with a short herb and grass/sedge mix would create a non-acid, tightly thatched ground litter for snails and slugs and would benefit a notable species (Perforatella subrufescens) and may encourage an additional three species to colonise.



Selected areas will be periodically cut by CNT volunteers to create small grassy open spaces. These could include:

  • The bramble-dominated scallops along the central ride.
  • The gas line in sub-compartment 18.
  • The bracken dominated open areas in sub-compartment 15.
  • The scrub-dominated areas in sub-compartment 3.

The size of the open areas would vary from a bole width of 4-5 trees (for snails) to a size equivalent to the existing open area at the southern end of the central ride (for hoverflies).


Planting Blackthorn and Hawthorn



The hoverfly survey indicates that Ballyannan Wood may have an important fauna of dead wood-associated invertebrates. The adults of many of these invertebrate species require open-structured flowers as nectar sources. At present, Bramble and Hogweed are important nectar sources from mid-June on, but there seems to be limited availability of suitable nectar sources earlier in the summer. Blackthorn and Hawthorn would together, potentially, fill this gap, but are both rare within the woodland. Therefore, planting these shrubs is likely to benefit populations of dead wood-associated invertebrates, as well as providing an attractive amenity for recreational visitors.



Blackthorn and Hawthorn shrubs will be planted in open areas close to veteran trees, mainly along the northern avenue and the central ride.


Dead Wood



Ballyannan Wood contains a good fauna of hoverfly species associated with dead wood, and some large veteran trees with an impressive range of dead wood features. However these trees are largely restricted to a small area of the wood (the northern avenue), and good fallen dead wood habitat is of limited extent within the wood. Therefore, maintenance of the existing dead wood resource is vital, and creation of artificial senescent tree features, and creation of additional dead wood resources may enhance the important fauna associated with this habitat. Dead wood features on standing trees are also of potential value as roosting habitats for bats.



Existing dead and dying trees, senescent features on living trees (e.g. dead branches, rot-holes), and fallen dead wood will not be removed from the site.

Where trees are being felled for timber, the non-timber parts will be left on the site. To provide habitat for snails and slugs, single large branches in the shade in both vegetated and unvegetated ground would be the most valuable. The occasional full trunk or part trunk would also be good. The branches should be placed lightly on the ground, not deeply embedded

.Artificial rot-holes will be created to provide habitat for dead wood-associated hoverflies. This involves making v-shaped vertical cuts in tree stumps and filling them with a sawdust mixture.


Pond Creation



Ballyannan Wood has no areas of freshwater wetland habitat. Creation of a small pond would increase the habitat diversity of the wood and allow additional plant and invertebrate species to colonise. A pond would also provide a valuable educational resource.



There are two areas within the wood where the ground remains wet all summer, indicating that the water-table may be sufficiently high for creation of a pond. Of these, the eastern location is probably more suitable as it is located under a canopy gap. Further investigation and design will be required to develop this proposal.


Erection of Nest-Boxes



Suitable trees for hole-nesting birds are patchily distributed in Ballyannan Wood and this is reflected in the distribution of hole-nesting bird species. Erection of nest boxes would allow populations to increase, and would also provide a valuable resource for education and research. Treecreepers are a particular target as they are quite rare in Ballyannan Wood.



Nest boxes will be erected in suitable locations in Ballyannan Wood, focussing particularly on areas where few hole-nesting birds were recorded.


Erection of Bat Boxes



Bats utilise the area for feeding, and small summer roosts may be present in trees, especially the older mature trees on site. Erection of bat boxes would provide additional bat roost habitat, especially in sections of the wood where suitable mature trees are not present, and would also facilitate monitoring of bat populations.



'Schwegler' woodcrete or concrete bat boxes have been proven to be acceptable alternatives for bats and they are readily occupied. Around 15 – 20 bat boxes will be erected in suitable locations in the wood.

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