Across most of the British Isles, the natural climax vegetation is woodland. Climax vegetation is the vegetation that appears on land, given long enough without human interference or natural disaster. We’ve lost most of our islands’ woodland cover over the last few thousand years as humans have managed and sometimes neglected the woods.
Now many ancient woodlands are being restored in Britain. These are irreplaceable sites, home to species not found elsewhere. In fact certain plants are recognised as indicator species of ancient woodland. If you find these species in a wood, it may well be an ancient wood.
Many farms in Britain already have ancient or planted small woodlands. These woods are valuable for widlife but moving between the woods is limiting for some kinds of organism, whether vertebrate (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians), invertebrate (insects, worms, snails), plant (trees, herbs, fungi, lichens, mosses) or microbial. These are fragmented ecosystems. Efforts to provide bridges sometimes work, but not always.
Meanwhile, people are planting trees. Farmers can claim Farm Woodland Grants for planting and management. Children and parents can plant and dedicate trees. People can plant trees to commemorate loved ones. This year as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, sixty new woods were created.
Twenty years or so ago, I was a volunteer running a tree planting scheme. I’ve lost touch with what happened there after I moved on but planted trees need nurturing. I hope those young trees were well cared for.