A lovely gift to future generations
The site, which covers an area of approximately 10ha consists of a valuable mosaic of semi-natural habitats bordering the River Box, upstream of Boxford. At the western end of the site is a low lying marshy area which is dominated by tall fen vegetation mainly marsh thistle, hairy willowherb, rushes, meadowsweet and lesser pond sedge.
Bordering the river and to the north of the fen is a slightly higher, drier area which has been used in the past for dumped river dredgings. A large proportion of this is colonised withtall rank vegetation, ie nettle and creeping thistle, the remainder is composed of closely grazed horse pasture, although some small patches of species-rich fen meadow are also present, particularly at the eastern end.
The valley slopes down quite steeply to the river in the eastern half of the site. Springs issuing from the hillside maintain high water levels throughout the year. These wetter areas are colonised by a species-rich fen meadow community which includes a good range of wetland plants typically found in such communities, eg. souther marsh orchids (many hundreds of plants), ragged robin, greater bird's-foot trefoil.
The fen meadow grades into a drier, less diverse grassland sward at the top of the slope and at the eastern end of the site. Although of less botanical diversity than the fen, the dry grassland supports good populations of invertebrates (particularly grasshoppers and crickets, and butterflies).
Woodland cover consists of a wet alder belt along the south western boundary and a number of fine alders fringing the River Box.
A detailed analysis of important semi-natural habitat in Suffolk has shown that only 1.1% of Suffolk's area consists of unimproved grassland of high conservation value. It remains the most threatened of Suffolk's habitats.
In the Babergh District there are only 12ha of fen remaining less than 0.1% of the Local Authority area. With the exception of a fen site downstream, the countryside around Boxford is largely devoid of unimproved grassland. The fen meadow is therefore of considerable importance in a local context and its value is enhanced by the proximity of other semi-natural habitats such as alder carr, dry grassland and open water. Two habitats in juxtaposition are more valuable than the same habitats in isolation.
Although a detailed faunal survey has not been carried out, it is known that the Box Valley supports a good population of otters. In addition, good numbers of invertebrates were noted when the site was surveyed.
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust considers that the land belonging to â€˜the Goodlands' in the Box Valley represents a valuable fragment of semi-natural habitat which is rich in biodiversity. Such sites are becoming increasingly scarce and fragmented in the Suffolk countryside and are therefore a priority for conservation. The site was included in the Register of County Wildlife Sites when it was updated at the end of 1997.
Plant species list:
- Ragged robin
- Lesser pond sedge
- Hairy willowherb
- Hard rush
- Soft rush
- Water figwort
- Square-stalked St. John's-wort
- Southern marsh orchid
- Water mint
- Greater bird's-foot trefoil
- Marsh marigold
- Fool's water-cress
- Water forget-me-not
- Marsh thistle
- Hairy sedge
- Ladies smock
- Blunt-flowered rush