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Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

A large part of Black Down and the Burrington Commons is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This means they are part of the country’s best wildlife and geological sites. This site has been designated a SSSI because of the calcareous (limestone) grassland especially on the steep sides of the gorge.

The special and varied habitats of the Commons have developed over hundreds of years through agricultural practices and their decline particularly reduced grazing. Today the area is partly managed through an agri environment scheme that supports grazing by ponies and goats as part of active management to maintain their wildlife interest.

Also the underlying geology is special as it not only defines the landscape above but has shaped an underground world below. The caves and caverns not only have interesting rock features but some are also Scheduled Monuments and home for roosting bats.

Caring for Black Down

Help us to look after the fragile habitats by following the Country Code including keeping to the paths and not picking wild flowers or taking rocks and fossils.

The ponies and goats are here to graze the area please do not attempt to feed them and don’t worry if you see the goats on steep rock faces – they are very agile and get in and out of the most awkward of places

What To Do

Why not join our Volunteers and help to manage the site for wildlife, get some exercise and make new friends at the same time. Also look out for the many events on our diary that take a closer look at the wildlife and geology of the commons.