Darenth Woods site of specific scientific interest (SSSI)
Darenth Woods is an area of approximately 300 acres of ancient coppiced woodland.
The wood is a nationally important site for a number of semi-natural ancient woodland types which has been developed on the range of different soils associated with the area.
The chalk soils at the base of the slopes support sessile oak and hornbeam coppice woodland, which occurring on chalk is very rare in Britain of which Darenth Woods is the largest example in North Kent.
More acidic woodland occurs on the clay and sandy soils overlaying the chalk plateau, and this is an unusual example, containing a wide range of chalk-loving shrubs such as dogwood, wayfaring tree and midland hawthorn, which root into the chalk below the acidic surface soil.
The insect fauna has been exceptionally well studied and the wood has long been famous as a site supporting many rarities. Many of these insects are associated with dead wood and include two nationally rare beetles living in dead or dying oak timber.
Numerous bugs, beetles and moths associated with the more open conditions found along the edges of glades. About one quarter of the woodland is oak dominant high forest, which, judging from the density and uniform age in some areas may have been planted seventy to ninety years ago.
Another important feature of the high forest in particular is standing and fallen dead timber, which is used by hole-nesting birds and a wide range of dead-wood insects and fungi.
The diversity of plant and animal life that we treasure in this woodland is, at least in part, the result of management over many generations.
Much of Darenth Wood has been managed as coppice-with-standards, and it is this traditional management that has given rise to the broad-leaved woodland and glades that we see today.