Area: 32.7 hectares.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Park Wood is located on the midreaches of the fast flowing River Lynher, approximately 9 km north-east of Liskeard, immediately south-west of Callington.
The steep eastern slopes of the valley support ancient, semi-natural woodland, dominated by sessile oak Quercus petraea coppice. The wetter alluvial soils in the valley bottom exhibit a succession of alder carr woodlands and wetlands. In addition the river contains a variety of running water, open water and riparian habitats and is of particular importance for otters.
The site is underlain by Upper Carboniferous strata , at the junction between the grits and shales of the Middle Culm Measures. These produce well-drained, fine loamy and silty soils on the valley slopes. The valley floor is overlain by water-logged alluvial deposits.
The steep west-facing slopes are dominated by oak coppice, mainly sessile oak, with silver birch Betula Pendula and scattered oak standards, which support a well-developed epiphyte flora. To the north is a more open area of oak coppice, with frequent oak standards. The site is particularly rich in mosses and liverworts, and the two ancient woodland moss species Orthotrichum lyellii and Pterogonium gracile are of particular note. Hazel Corylus avellana coppice and holly Ilex aquifolium are abundant in the shrub layer. Additional shrub species include rowan Sorbus aucuparia, hawthorn Crataegus monogyna, blackthorn Prunus spinosa and occasional yew taxus baccata. The herblayer is dominated by great wood-rush Luzula sylvatica, bramble Rubus fruticosus and bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, together with bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta, common cow-wheat Melampyrum pratense, enchanter's-Nightshade Circaea lutetania, honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum, ivy Hedera helix, hard fern Blechnum spicant, polypody Poypodium vulgare and broad buckler fern Dryopteris dilatata. The uncommon woodland grass, wood millet Milium effusum and pignut Conopodium majus are species of particular note.
The wetter alluvial soils in the valley bottom support alder carr, a habitat of very limited distribution within Cornwall and the rest of Britain. To the south-west the terrain becomes more hummocky, forming wet depressions, ditches and scattered pools. This wet alder carr is dominated by alder Alnus glutinosa, ash Fraxinus excelsior and grey willow Salix cinerea, together with wetland herb species including hemlock water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata, lesser spearwort Renunculus flammula, meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, marsh violet Viola palustris, brooklime Veronica beccabunga, soft rush Juncus effusus, hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum, wild angelica Angelicasylvestris and reed canary-grass Phalaris arundinacca. There are some stands of royal fern Osmunda regalis and great woodrush is locally abundant. On the permanently water-logged soils in the south-west of the site the ground flora is often dominated by dense populations of great tussock sedge Carex paniculata.
The drier alder carr in the north-west of the site supports some stands of sessile oak, with a shrub layer of hazel, hawthorn, rowan, spindleEuonymus europaeus and guelder-rose Viburnum opulus. In addition to the typical wetland herb species of the wetter areas, the diverse herblayer here includes dog's mercury Mercurialis perennis, herb robert Geranium robertianum, ground ivy Glechoma hederacea, wood avens Geum urbanum, common cow-wheat and broad helleborine Epipactus helleborine.
In addition to the diversity of the woodland habitats, the River Lynher and adjacent leats and pools provide a variety of open and running water habitats. The river contains deep pools, sandy bars and riffles, shallow rocky rapids and small islands which support a rich invertebrate fauna. Dippers Cinclus cinclus breed on this section of river, which is also particularly important for otters Lutra lutra.