Oare Gunpowder Works
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Wildlife

Oare Gunpowder Works supports a rich and varied wildlife. The following pages give basic information about major groups of plants and animals with suggestions about sources of further information.


Wildlife Environments at Oare Gunpowder Works

Oare Gunpowder Works benefits from considerable protection both for its heritage and wildlife values.

Oare Gunpowder Works includes a variety of wildlife habitats. These have developed alongside the Works during the last several hundred years. After a period of little management the development of visitor facilities at Oare Gunpowder Works includes long-term management of the site to increase wildlife value.

To maintain this nationally important archaeological site for future generations the entire site has been notified as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (National Monument No. 31414). A monument which has been scheduled is protected against disturbance or unlicensed metal detecting. All developments on the site have been under the guidance of English Heritage.

Kent Wildlife Trust has designated the site as part of a larger Site of Nature Conservation Interest (Local Wildlife Site) acknowledging the importance of the wildlife within the county of Kent.

The area also contains part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The reason for the notification is that the millpond reed bed forms part of the largest remaining area of freshwater grazing marshes in North Kent. Additionally it has been noted that some bats use the site. As all British bats have full legal protection, under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act (as amended) and the 1994 Habitat Regulations, all work on buildings known to be used by bats was carried out under licence granted by DEFRA.

Woodlands
Swale Borough Council manages the woodland to ensure public safety, to increase the wildlife value by widening rides and paths and creating holes in the canopy, and to create a mixture of saplings, mature trees, dying wood and felled timber. If you visit the site try to identify areas of woodland that have been coppiced.

Many species of both native and non-native trees are present. The strip of woodland in the stream valley includes many plant species that suggest the woodland is very old. These ancient woodland species include bluebell, dog’s mercury, wood anemone and lesser celandine. The ground cover plants of the woodland are in full flower early in the spring before the leaves on the trees are fully open.

Wetlands
The Oare Stream provided a source of water for power and transport. Today the whole site contains both still and moving water: these include many small canals (or leats), a large millpond with reed beds, low-lying marshy areas, as well as part of the Oare Stream itself.

The reed beds and low-lying marshy areas contain specialised assemblages of plants and associated wildlife. Many minibeasts or invertebrates live for part of their life in water followed by an adult stage in the air. Dragonflies abound in the summer and autumn. Others spend their whole life in the water and on the surrounding plants and may be more difficult to observe.

The water is important to larger animals too. Birds, for example, will drink and bathe at the water’s edge whilst the kingfisher will hunt for small fish and invertebrates in both the stream and the millpond.

Open Glades
The test range was an important feature of the Oare Gunpowder Works. Today it is an important area for plants that grow well in full light. The variety of grasses and plants provide homes for many minibeasts. These include grasshoppers and caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Management will be necessary to control the natural succession of bramble and scrub.

 

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Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park is managed by Swale Borough Council in partnership with Kent Countryside Management Partnerships
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