Great Breach and Copley Woods
|Site of Special Scientific Interest|
|Area of Search||Somerset|
|Area||64.8 hectares (0.648 km2; 0.250 sq mi)|
|Natural England website|
Great Breach and Copley Woods (grid reference ) is a 64.8 hectare (160 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest 1 km south of Compton Dundon and 5 km south-east of Street in Somerset, England, notified in 1972.
Great Breach and Copley Woods is an area of ancient and semi-natural broadleaved woodland. it was largely planted in the 19th Century as an oak plantation but was cleared and large parts of it were replanted with conifers. The site has two woodland types which have a restricted distribution in Britain and the has a locally important invertebrate fauna. The assemblage of fungi in the woods is also interesting. The site occupies a plateau and steep slopes which face west and is it the eastern end of the Polden Hills. The soils are poorly drained and lime rich and the underlying rock strata are Lower Lias and Keuper Marl.
Flora and fauna
Great Breach and Copley Woods many nationally scarce species of invertebrates, an interesting ground flora more typical of ancient woodland sitesand over 600 species of fungi. Over 170 species which are scarce in Somerset have been recorded. For example, it is the only site in Britain where the fungus Lycophyllum konradianum has been recorded.
There are two areas of ancient woodland in the site, the dominant species of tree in Bunch Wood are ash and small-leaved lime this also has some field maple and hazel while in the southern part of the site there is an area of woodland dominated by alder and ash. The majority of what's left of the site was afforested in the early 19th Century with pedunculate oak and ash. Despite their man-made origin these reafforested areas resemble ancient woodland, with a diverse understorey including wayfaring tree, guelder-rose, dogwood and spindle. The herb layer in these woods also has a community more typical of ancient woodland while the rides are also home to a rich group of plants including pyramidal orchid and greater butterfly-orchid.
These woods support a varied assemblage of invertebrates fauna and make up one of Somerset's most important sites for butterflies with 29 resident breeding species having been observed in recent years. One species of particular interest is the Duke of Burgundy. There is a varied moth fauna too which includes national rare species such as Ethmia terminella and Dystebenna stephensi. Other important invetbrates on the site include nationally rare species of hoverfly. The site also has a rich variety of grasshoppers, bees and other insects. The birds are typical British woodland species but lesser spotted woodpecker is found here.
The Sommerset Wildlife Trust manage the site and have been working to remove non native conifers and beech which adversely affect the sites nature conservation value and allowing natural regeneration which leads to an increase in light reaching the woodland floor. They also maintain the extensive network of open rides and glades and these are important in allowing wildlife and people to travel within the woods.
History and archaeology
Formerly Copley House stood amongst the woods here but has long been demolished. Area of the site were used as a training camp during the Second World War but any signs of this have almost vanished. An obelisk, the Colston Obelisk, which is a memorial to someone killed in a hunting accident in 1852, is situated in the woods.
- "Great Breech Wood, Mendip TA11 9NX". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
- "Great Breach and Copley Woods" (PDF). English Nature. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
- "Great Breach Wood". Somerset Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
- "Great Breach Wood Somerset". Woodland Trust. Retrieved 18 March 2020.