National Character Area 104

South Herefordshire and Over Severn - Summary and Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity

Summary

The South Herefordshire and Over Severn National Character Area (NCA) stretches from the border with the Forest of Dean in the south, north-westwards to Ewyas Harold in South Herefordshire and north-eastwards to the southern point of the Malvern Hills. Between these two northern points the boundary curves northwards in an arc around the Woolhope Dome. Stunning panoramic views are available from Garway Hill in the west and May Hill in the south-east across the NCA and beyond to up to 12 counties on a clear day.

The meandering River Wye flows southwards through the centre of the area from Holme Lacy, with its celebrated parkland landscape in the north, to Goodrich, where one of the best examples of a Norman castle in England stands. Much of the course of the River Wye, popular with canoeists, and its adjacent flood plain, lies within the northern end of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with 39 per cent of the AONB within this NCA and much of the remainder extending into Wales. The River Wye itself is internationally designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

It is a picturesque, rural, well-wooded landscape with substantial areas of ancient semi-natural woodland, parkland and traditional orchards and a network of ancient hedgerows with hedgerow trees contributing to a timbered feel. Remnants of common land and neutral and calcareous grassland, particularly on the Woolhope Dome, form a highly fragmented semi-natural grassland resource. Land use is mainly a mix of livestock and arable farming. The wild daffodils of Over Severn provide a seasonal visitor attraction and have been much featured in poetry. A small corner of land above Dymock and the River Leadon in the north-eastern part of the NCA lies within the Malvern Hills AONB.

Key ecosystem services within this NCA include water regulation as a part of the Wye and Severn catchments, food production through extensive agriculture, an important genetic resource of local fruit varieties and a sense of tranquillity intrinsic in the scenic rural character of the landscape.

Pressures arise largely from increasingly intensive agricultural land use on the prime fertile soils of the area, including arable cropping, potato growing and fruit production. Pressure from development is small and largely focused around Ross-on-Wye and Newent.

Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity (SEO)

See the Statements of Environmental Opportunity section for more details on the headlines listed below.

SEO 1

Protect and manage the woodland, parkland, traditional orchards and hedgerows with hedgerow trees that contribute to the well-wooded feel of the landscape, securing the new generation of replacement trees. Expand and restore the currently much-fragmented semi-natural habitats across the NCA to enhance the ability of species to move across the landscape, enabling some resilience to climate change, and benefiting soil quality and water quality and reducing soil erosion.

SEO 2

Sustainably manage the productive agricultural landscape, enhancing food provision and increasing permeability to the movement of species. Manage in such a way as to preserve and enhance soil condition and water quality and reduce soil erosion, particularly in relation to the River Wye Special Area of Conservation.

SEO 3

Maintain and enhance the many historic features and characteristic settlement pattern of rural hamlets, isolated farmsteads and small villages and towns using local materials. Preserve the tranquil rural character of the area, protecting and promoting the biodiversity, geodiversity, access, recreation and heritage of the area.

SEO 4

Protect and enhance the rivers Wye, Leadon and Monnow and their tributaries for their internationally important biodiversity associated with the River Wye Special Area of Conservation, their contribution to landscape, the ecological network, and sense of place and inspiration, and for the regulating services that they provide including water flow, water quality and water availability.