Restoring woods and creating new ones

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.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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7 Responses to Restoring woods and creating new ones

  1. I wonder randomly how well canals or cycling routes such as some of the Sustrans ones could be cultivated to act as wildlife corridors.

  2. Thanks for following my very unscientific cow ‘n nature blog! I like the look of yours and look forward to reading more. I have to take issue with tree planting though – controversial I know…BUT… trees plant themselves! A planted woodland is an unbeautiful thing – just compare it to an ancient woodland. A planted woodland will never look like that, however long it’s there. After the big storm in 87 (?) the wardens in Epping Forest did an experiment – they replanted certain areas and let others regenerate naturally – guess what? The naturally regenerated areas did much better, took off faster and had a much more natural appearance as the trees put themselves where they were happiest. That’s not to say that this doesn’t need management – for instance you might want to manage bramble and a plethora of sycamores as the young trees take off. I just have to look out my window and see self seeded ash, willow, hazel, hawthorn and oak. Come on, let the trees grow where they will…

  3. Pingback: Corridors for wildlife | Science on the Land

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