Main habitats: woodland
Ebbor Gorge sits within the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is part of the Mendip Woodlands Special Area of Conservation .
The reserve is cut into 2 valleys: Hope Wood Valley, which contains an active stream, and the dry, limestone Ebbor Gorge.
The woodlands are mostly ash, but also include oak, wych elm, field maple, whitebeam, beech, hornbeam and hazel. The humidity in Hope Wood encourages the growth of ferns and funghi. Over 250 species of mosses, liverworts and lichens have been recorded on site, many rare ones.
In the spring bluebells, wood anemone and dogs mercury cover the woodland floor alongside a wide variety of bryophytes, including the rare Bryum canariense and very rare Amblystegiella confervoides.
Small areas of grassland also occur on some of the limestone outcrops and plateaus of the reserve. Grazed by rabbits, these important pockets support varieties of short grass and herbs including common rock-rose, fairy flax, marjoram, wild thyme, common milkwort and quaking grass.
The mixed age of the woodland means the forest canopy has many levels, which encourages many species of butterfly, including the nationally scarce white-letter hairstreak. Other butterfly species such as the chalkhill blue and brown argus have been recorded on the limestone grassland. Rare lesser and greater horseshoe bats hibernate and roost in the site’s cave systems. These were formed over millennia as rainwater slowly dissolved the subsurface limestone.
|Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (1 Jan 2017 - 31 Dec 2017)|