At the heart of the nature reserve stands Saltwells Wood. It became part of Lord Dudley's Saltwells Estate after the enclosure of Pensnett Chase in 1785. At the time, wood was in high demand, especially for charcoal for the budding iron industry, so the area was planted with trees. During at least the 19th century, the woodland west of the Black Brook was called Lady Dudley’s Plantation or Lady Wood (perhaps in honour of Lady Dudley), whilst that to the east was known as Birch Wood.
The descendants of the Oak and Beech still survive and are home to many species of woodland bird, such as Treecreeper, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Wild Garlic and Anemones are found in the wood together with lush carpets of Bluebells.
Recently presented with a Centre of Excellence award by the Forestry Authority for woodland management, Saltwells has long been a model urban reserve for Europe under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere project.