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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January 2004, 19:51 GMT
Woods get conservation accolade
Tarr Steps
The woods have international significance. Photo: Barry Samuels
Part of Exmoor National Park is to receive one of the highest nature conservation accolades when it is declared a national nature reserve.

The area is an ancient wooded valley by the River Barle, popularly known as Tarr Steps.

The woods were bought by Exmoor National Park Authority using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Conservation work on the site includes improvements to the circular path which will be known as the Jubilee Trail.

The walk takes visitors across a clapper bridge, through the steep-sided rocky valley which is clothed in oak woodland.

"We are delighted that these beautiful woods are now in the ownership of the National Park Authority and have been recognised as being of National Nature Reserve (NNR) standard," said Dr Nigel Stone, a National Park Officer.

Tarr Woods are internationally significant for the mosses, liverworts and lichens found there including a type of moss found in burrows, which appears to glow in the dark.

They are also home to a variety of fauna including otters which feed on eels and fish in the unmodified river and the rare barbastelle bat which breeds in splits and cracks of old trees.

"It is truly deserving of its status as a NNR," said Dr Flemming Ulf-Hansen, English Nature's conservation officer for Exmoor.

"English Nature is delighted to recognise the management of this fantastic site by the Exmoor National Park be declaring the new Tarr Steps Woodland in the Park's 50th anniversary year."

The woods will be officially declared NNR on Tuesday 27 January.

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