Inholms Clay pit is a 7.5 ha former clay extraction site, now a local nature reserve (LNR) managed by Mole Valley District Council.
Following cessation of clay extraction (around 1980) the site has now reverted to a mosaic of species rich grassland, scrub and older secondary woodland. To add diversity to the site, a complex of seven ponds was excavated in 2011 as part of Freshwater Habitats Trust’s (then Pond Conservation) Million Ponds Project. The seven waterbodies vary in size from a 2m2 to around 80m2.
In 2013 local botanists attempted an experimental introduction of Starfruit Damasonium alisma to the two largest new ponds on the reserve. The seed had originally been harvested from a wild population of Starfruit growing at Heath House pond at National Trust’s Headley Heath, which is close to Inhoms Claypit. To everyone’s surprise, the introduction worked and Starfruit is now flourishing on two of the ponds at Inholms. Most introductions of Starfruit have resulted in short term success with a rapid decline in the following years, however, so far we have seen plants increasing in number each year. This is most likely due to a combination of the low nutrient status of the new ponds which were dug directly into the clay and effort by volunteers to selectively remove Reedmace which may shade out the delicate Starfruit.
By including this fascinating site in the Flagship Ponds project we have been able to support local volunteers and staff from Surrey Wildlife Trust in a number of ways. Training has enabled the volunteer group to accurately record the number of Starfruit plans growing each year, and importantly a range of habitat variables about the ponds – this will help everyone to understand how introduced populations of Starfruit fair in the long term and how they respond to changes in habitat succession. We have also provided support for further habitat creation, creating additional ponds for Starfruit as a back-up population. We have also installed fencing to keep the ponds free from the pressures of recreation at this popular site.
Accessibility: Some Flagship Pond sites are accessible to the public, and some are not. If in doubt, consult maps for rights of way, look online for site information, or contact the site manager, and follow any instructions on site. It is up to you to check whether you require permission to visit and access the ponds on a site.
Site owners/managers: Mole Valley District Council