As the last survey season for the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Project comes to an end, I have lots of amazing findings from Devon and Cornwall to share over the next few months.

Dendles Wood SSSI is located in the Dartmoor National Park, close to the village of Cornwood in Ivybridge. Dendles Wood SSSI is a semi-natural oak woodland and is designated for its bryophytes, lichens and high numbers of breeding birds. So, we brought in a specialist to survey the small areas in our management for bryophytes to find out what species we have and the coverage across the site. The word bryophyte is a collective term for mosses, hornworts and liverworts.

The findings are astonishing: I will take one example from Dendles - one very small area (less than 3600m2 in area) called Ford Brook. Our surveyor slowly walked the area which included rocks, banks, woodlands and decaying fallen wood habitats, noting any mosses or liverworts. The species of conservational interest were also georeferenced by using a GPS. Two Nationally Scarce mosses (Heterocladium wulfsbergii and Platyhypnidium lusitanicum) were found in this area. Nationally Scarce species are those which are only recorded from 16-100 hectads (10 km grid squares) in Britain ≥1950.  Aside from these rarities, 75 species in total were found at Ford Brook!

The mild and damp British Isles climate accommodates lots of important mosses and liverworts, especially those areas with deeply incised watercourses in upland areas with wooded sides. This survey has confirmed that Dendles Wood is a very important site for its communities of oceanic bryophytes which supports the SSSI features. The current management techniques for this woodland appear to be very effective in maintaining ideal conditions for the four species of local or national conservation importance, as well as the wider community of bryophytes.

A big thank you to EAD Ecology and Vegetation Survey and Assessment Ltd for their cooperation and survey effort. If you would like to receive a copy of this report or if you would like to join any ecology days as a volunteer, please do get in touch.

Emma Scotney

[email protected]