Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Local Nature Reserve

Wild ground along the top of the cliffs from Boscombe to Southborne with lots of grasses and flowers although some of the more unusal species are garden escapes.

 

Site Name Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Local Nature Reserve
Protection
  • BCP Council
  • Local Nature Reserve
  • Site of Scientific Interest
Interest
2
County Dorset
More Information https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteLNRDetail.aspx?SiteCode=L1460…
SSSI https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteLNRDetail.aspx?SiteCode=L1460…
Site Projects
Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Local Nature Reserve

Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff: on the waterfront -

It may seem hard to believe at first sight but between the busy road and buildings along the top of the cliffs to the eastern side of Bournemouth, the districts of Boscombe and Southbourne, and the beach teaming with people, there is a nature reserve. In fact, it has the formal designation of a local nature reserve which has legal status and protection. It is amazing to think that this strip of land between two very human and alien environments could support sufficient natural interest to justify such recognition. I am not party to official papers and surveys that led to this designation, I can only work from my own amateur observations, but I would suggest that part of the reason is the rather unique geology of the area which produces cliffs some 50 feet high with extremely sandy soil. This leads to very dry soil conditions and that, in turn, is a difficult environment for plants to establish themselves and to grow into viable communities. This produces an interesting species list which then justifies the protection afforded by its designation.

The cliff tops and cliff faces are smothered in vegetation of many kinds and this leads a diverse array of insect and animal life despite the overwhelming human presence, especially in summer. What I found particularly interesting are the number of non-native plant species that have obviously escaped from nearby gardens. Normally the presence of so may invasive, alien species would induce concern in conservation circles but actually it has helped make this area unique and worthy of conservation as it is! For instance, there are large areas of a very attractive Mediterranean grass species we know as large quaking grass and flowering plants such as the seaside daisy, the Duke of Argyle's tea plant, blanketflower, tree lupin and tamarisk. None belong here and yet all thrive and play their part. There is also a substantial colony of southern European wall lizards and the large green lizard here too.

More naturally occurring species such a marram grass and lyme grass help bind the loose sandy soil together and other plants that find these condition suitable are well represented. I was struck by the abundance of hare's-foot clover and wild carrot amongst many other species. So, if you are on the waterfront at the eastern end of Bournemouth take a closer look, I think it will surprise and delight you; it did me but then I suppose I am funny that way!      

Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Local Nature Reserve

50.721004105569, -1.8080003020897
BCP Council, Local Nature Reserve, Site of Scientific Interest
2
These are the habitat types that MAY be present on the site based on the species recorded there (top 10 only shown):
Phase 1 Habitat Types Description No of Species
H8

Maritime cliff and slope

14
B3

Calcareous Grassland

13
H6

Sand Dunes

13
A1.3

Mixed Woodland

10
J1

Cultivated/disturbed land

10
A1.1

Broad-leaf Woodland

9
B2

Neutral Grassland

9
B5

Marsh/marshy Grassland

8
H4

Rocks above high tide mark

7
J3

Built-up areas

6
These are the number of species for NVC codes on the site - it DOES NOT mean that the NVC community is actually present on the site: it might be! (Top 10 only shown):
NVC Community Description No of Species
MG01

Arrhenatherum elatius [False Oat-grass] grassland

9
MG05

Cynosurus cristatus - Centaurea nigra [Crested Dogs-tail/Black knapweed] grassland

9
MG06

Lolium perenne - Cynosurus cristatus [Perennial ryegrass/Crested dog's tail] grassland

8
MG07

Lolium perenne [Perennial ryegrass] and related species grassland

8
W10

Quercus robur - Pteridium aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus [Pedunculate Oak/Bracken/Bramble] woodland

6
CG02

Festuca ovina - Helictotrichon pratense [Sheep's Fescue/Meadow Oat-grass] grassland

5
CG03

Bromopsis erecta [Upright Brome] grassland

5
CG06

Helictotrichon pubescens [Downy Oat-grass] grassland

5
CG07

Festuca ovina - Pilosella officinarum - Thymus polytrichum [Sheeps Fescue/Mouse-ear hawkweed/Wild Thyme] grassland

5
CG01

Festuca ovina - Calluna vulgaris [Sheeps Fescue/Ling] grassland

4
Site Diary
Diary Date Notes Project Click for records and photos
01-07-14

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The number of species recorded per species group: