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The legacy of a derelict factory has created another secret world for wildlife in the north part of the site, with its historic waterways and old buildings in the alder woodland, each an ecological niche and collectively forming a unique nature reserve. There is increasing interest in the Royal Gunpowder Mills as a wildlife habitat. A large area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The nature reserve attracts a wide range of birds, such as the siskin, which feeds on the alder seed cones. There are barn owls in the old buildings too, and herons are common in the wet areas. Other animals that make their home at the Mills include fallow deer, grass snakes and various species of bat. The waterways are inhabited by large carp and other fish, such as pike, and in summer these areas are alive with dragonflies and damselflies.
The woodland comprises an area of nearly 120 acres, most of which is designated by English Nature as a Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI). The new woodland management plan proposes that about a fifth of the woodland will be brought back into a coppice regime.