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SSSI designation for Bushy and Home Parks

On 5 September it was announced that Bushy Park and Home Park had been designated as a combined Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, subject to consultation over a four month period. The announcement, notification documents and maps can be viewed here.

This is a great accolade for both the Bushy Park and Home Park teams that work hard to conserve and protect this unique environment.

Bushy Park and Home Park received notification of SSSI status for their exceptionally large population of ancient and veteran trees, extensive areas of semi-natural lowland dry acid grassland, and their internationally significant populations of rare invertebrates.

More than 200 veteran trees have been identified at the site of which 94 are classed as ancient. The site is the highest ranking of ten comparable sites in the Greater London area and one of only 44 sites nationally known to support more than 100 veteran trees. The trees at Bushy Park and Home Park are rare relicts of a wood-pasture management on the site that dates back to the 15th Century. The trees include oak and lime with some horse chestnut and sweet chestnut and approximately sixteen other species of tree. A notable feature is the occurrence of a large number of very old hawthorn trees, many of which are festooned with mistletoe.

The great age of many of the trees at the site provides an abundance of dead and fallen timber. Inside these trees there is a succession of fungi which actively break down the heartwood to produce a rich internal wood mould. This habitat, often deep within a large living tree, provides the perfect environment for specialised saproxylic (wood feeding) invertebrate species.

The site is home to so many rare and threatened species of wood feeding invertebrates that it ranks amongst the top five in Britain for this highly specialised group of creatures, for which Britain has international importance

Nicholas Mallory Garbutt, Tree and Wildlife Conservation Manager, Historic Royal Palaces, said, “We are delighted that Home Park has received this recognition of its national significance for wildlife conservation. This historic deer park is a vital part of Hampton Court Palace’s history, which has been enjoyed by everyone from King Henry VIII, to the many visitors who flock to the Hampton Court Flower Show every year.”

More information about Sites of Special Scientific Interest can be found here

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