Area: 26.82 hectares.
Owned by the National Trust. New site.
Description and Reasons for Notification:
Dunsland Park is important for its very rich lichen flora, containing many nationally rare species, and for the presence of some rare invertebrates.
The site lies in north Devon five miles east of Holsworthy. It varies in altitude from 100–160 metres AOD, and consists of a shallow north-south valley overlying Carboniferous shale and sandstone. It contains both parkland on the slopes with scattered ancient oak Quercus spp., ash Fraxinus excelsior, lime Tilia spp. and beech Fagus sylvatica trees, and willow Salix spp., and alder Alnus glutinosa carr surrounding old fish-ponds on the valley floor. Several flushed areas are also present on the slopes, with well developed tall herb communities dominated by meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria with wild angelica Angelica sylvestris, hemlock water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata and reed canary-grass Phalaris arundinacea.
The undisturbed nature of the site and the high humidity in the carr have allowed the development of exceptionally diverse lichen communities. 163 species of lichen have been recorded in total, including over 40 highly indicative of long-term woodland continuity, an exceptionally high number.
The Lobarion community is very well developed, with all four British species of lungwort Lobaria spp. present, including the rare L. amplissima. Many specimens of L. pulmonaria and Sticta fuliginosa are fertile, the latter very unusually so, indicating the excellent conditions for lichens at this site. The Lobarion community also contains the national rarities Heterodermia obscurata, Parmelia arnoldii andP. sinuosa. The older trees in the parkland support the Lecanactideum premneae community, an assemblage of species which occurs when the trees are too old to support the Lobarion. Rarities in this community include Arthonia zwackii, Leptorhaphis ischnobela and Cyphelium inquinans.
Dunsland also possesses considerable invertebrate interest. Of greatest interest is a small area of coppice woodland which has two Red Data Book species: a fungus gnat Rymosia britteni and a cranefly Paradelphomyia fuscula, as well as a snail Zenobiella subrufescens which is found only in ancient woodland. Dead wood invertebrates include: a woodland soldier fly Xylophagus ater, a beetle Cerylon ferrugineum and a bristly millipede Polyxenus lagurus. The carr supports a rich assemblage of wetland flies including Palloptera scutellata, which is nationally scarce, Sepedon spinipes, Tetanocera hyalipennis, Trigometopus frontalis and the nationally scarce slender ground hopper Tetrix subulata.