The Staverton Nature Reserve comprises two sections: a public-access Boardwalk area and a fenced-off inner area which, as far as possible, is left to settle into a natural ecological balance without the disruptive impact of human activity.
This area provides a scenic walking route between the Staverton river path and the playing fields, a chance to enjoy the diverse fauna and flora inhabiting the Staverton Nature Reserve.
The Inner Reserve
This inner area comprises a steep slope of about two acres running down from the Staverton playing field towards the River Dart. At the bottom is a rare form of woodland marsh habitat which floods in winter and dries out in summer – possibly a breeding ground for amphibians A cursory glance reveals there are 6 species of mature deciduous trees on the site, including a significant stand of common alder. There is an understory of elder, holly, blackthorn and hazel which shows signs of having been coppiced in the distant past. The Ordnance Survey map of 1895 shows it as a woodland site, and it is believed that many of the trees could be at least 100 years old. The ancient wood indicator dog’s mercury is abundant amongst the leaf litter beneath the tree canopy. It is possibly a habitat for great crested newts, and higher up the slope for dormice. This needs further research. Badgers, roe deer and four species of bats are known to use the site, and it offers a haven for woodland birds both nesting and roosting. Marsh tits have been observed nesting there. Beetles and other invertebrates make homes in the many fallen trees providing food at the lower end of the food chain. According to the Wildlife Trust, there is an urgent need to ensure the conservation of these little secret spaces.
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