We know that trees are home to such an array of wildlife and we already know that being amongst them is good for our mental health, but all that aside, and apart from the fact they create oxygen, why should we protect them?
Trees are the lungs of the earth, they are all interconnected, they talk to each other in their own special language. Next time you are out, turn your phone off and just place your hands on a tree, any tree, the gnarlier the better. Close your eyes and just breath. Once you are there, don’t worry if any one is looking, clear your mind of the every day stresses. Everyone in life has these – you are no different. But take this moment to just connect. I do this on every walk, normally with a hug and it really helps me be me.
Ancient Woodlands only started to be mapped out in England and Wales since 1600s and 1750s in Scotland and the earliest findings are in the Domesday book which was compiled in 1086.
These inventories show that 7% of ancient woodland was cleared around the 1930s and 38% has been replaced with plantations of non native species (probably a lot higher now). Our land is now only covered by 2.4% ancient woodlands, which is a scary number. A number which doesn’t even cover the Caingorms National Park, or which is about 2 times the size of London, pretty tiny… (estimated by the two white dots).
Now, whilst I fully support replanting native species throughout the country, this cannot support the current wildlife whose habitat is currently being destroyed in the UK on projects such as the HS2.
So what is an ancient woodland?
An Ancient woodland, or “old-growth forest’ for our American friends, I would describe as a complex home to many species from micro-organisms to deer, which all rely on each other. Without one, they others cannot survive to their full potential.
Each individual tree is a habitat to the invertebrates, which feed the mice and shrews, which in turn feed the owls. I found a great diagram of the food chain online which explains how everything is connected. Without the leaf litter from the trees to feed the worms, the mice will go hungry and the owls will have to find their food (and shelter) somewhere else. Or foliage gleaners like warblers feed directly on the trees. Or woodpeckers break into the decaying wood for their food – these ancient trees provide birds with more essentials resources than any other types of tree on the planet.
Here is a list of great ancient trees to visit: https://www.ancienttreeforum.co.uk/ancient-trees/ancient-tree-sites-to-visit/
So what can you do? You can find advice in the links below if you are a:
Plus – you can sign my petition to protect the woodlands from HS2 here.
Oh an a little bit extra…
Have you heard of a Phoenix Tree?
Ever seen a fallen tree with it roots still absorbing nutrients from the ground and the branches continuing to grow vertically? Well this is a Phoenix tree. A horizontal tree with it’s crown in the ground can create new roots and allow the old ones to decay. This regeneration is so important for the soil and the old branches can be left to protect the new growth so the tree can go on.
So in conclusion, all ancient woodlands need our protection, the best way that we can do it is to educate ourselves about what it is that are damaging them and to work out ways every single one of us can do our bit.