Habitat Creation | Woodland Management
Woodland management techniques
Influencing different groups of wildlife
Wildlife Value of trees
types of trees in Berkshire
The UK has one of the smallest areas of woodland in Europe. Just 7.5% of its land is devoted to trees while the average in the EU is 29%. Existing woods have suffered from building developments and neglect compared to traditional management techniques used in the 1900's.
Involvement of volunteers include, establishing new trees. This can vary from individual trees in community gardens, through small copses to thousands of new trees. Secondly, managing existing trees from small copses to large woodlands. Volunteer involvement can include access improvements, clearance of litter, or woodland work such as tree felling, coppicing and planting. It is possible to integrate woodland projects, wildlife conservation and public recreation without serious problems to any of the three.
1) Minimal management
This aims to allow a woodland to revert to as natural a state as possible. It embraces natural phenomena, such as wind throw and succession. If a woodland is already of high conservation value, showing no signs of deterioration, a non-intervention policy may be the preferred option. However, the remaining woodlands we have today are small and management techniques aimed at stabilising conditions may be required.
2) Traditional management
Continuing traditional practices such as coppicing and pollarding helps to maintain important historic landscapes which are also extremely important for many types of wildlife - from bluebells to nightingales.
When an area of woodland is first coppiced , much more light reaches the woodland floor, encouraging growth of the ground flora such as bluebells and primroses. As shoots grow from the coppiced stool, they provide food for caterpillars and other insects and eventually there are nesting sites for birds. When the coppice has grown tall and dense it will restrict the light reaching the woodland floor. Traditionally a wood would have been divided into compartments with a different section being coppiced each year on a seven to fifteen year cycle, thus ensuring a constant supply of coppice products. An actively coppiced wood is beneficial to wildlife because all stages of the succession from open ground to thicket and old coppice are represented, thus providing habitats for a great variety of plant and animal species.
Wood pasture involved grazing animals as well as trees. There is a conflict, in that the shade of the trees spoils the pasture and the livestock eat the regrowth of the trees. Various techniques have existed for reconciling the two.
3) High forest management
In most woodlands, traditional management practices have been neglected, or densely stocked with timber trees. This has resulted in a tall dense closed canopy of even aged trees, called high forest. Plantations can be high forests either broadleaved (native) or coniferous (non-native). A more diverse age structure of trees can be created by clear felling small areas to encourage regeneration.