Moonscape on Bodmin Moor is a green and pleasant land again
An old industrial landscape once likened to the surface of the moon has been granted special status for its nature conservation value after a restoration project.
South West Water bought Park Pit, on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, in 2007 to use as a reservoir and took on management of the site which was described by ecologists at the time as a "moonscape of waste sand and mica".
Former owners, china clay firm Imerys, had landscaped the area and re-seeded it with heather. The vegetation has continued to develop naturally and surveys have found it now hosts two rare species – marsh clubmoss and stag's-horn clubmoss.
The 125 hectares of land around the reservoir have now been officially designated a county wildlife site by a panel of experts from Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Cornwall Council and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.
China clay pit restoration expert Ian Davies said: "South West Water took the decision at an early stage to work with nature and the prevailing ecology at Park and avoid the temptation to rush to costly 'quick fix' solutions which only provide potentially inappropriate surface vegetation.
"While the regeneration was initially slow – a characteristic of low nutrient habitats like Park Lake – the direction of travel towards a high quality heathland habitat was clear.
"Now, the heathland is looking very good indeed, with good populations of rare breeding birds and characteristic invertebrates."
Neil Whiter, from South West Water, added: "Transforming Park Pit from a derelict china clay site to a public water supply and nature-rich landscape was a daunting but exciting project and one which has already proved invaluable to South West Water.
"For nearly three years now, Park Lake has been supplying an average of over five million litres a day of exceptionally high quality water to our customers in Cornwall.
"South West Water has a long-term commitment to the environment of the region. Park Lake is already a diverse and fascinating site but it has an even more exciting future as it matures."