In woodland we trust
Is your woodland future-proofed? Thewoodland Trust can help ensure that the arboreal landscape remains abundant for ourselves and our wildlife
CLIMATE change, pests, diseases and pollution are all combining at the present time to extend a serious risk to the well-being of the UK’S historic woodlands. This toxic combination will influence our lives, businesses and has the ability to pose a substantial danger to the health of our natural wildlife. However, if we move and tak e action now, we are able to put in position ways of preserving the vitality of our woods and trees, and of giving them protection against both present and future threats. The benefits of trees and woods are k nown to be many and widereaching: they provide cover for woodland birds; they are a source of firewood and timber; they engender an amenity landscape for pleasurable walking or riding; and they provide habitats for our wildlife.
Pests and diseases have posed and pose now serious risk s to our arboreal heritage. A new andmore virulent formof Dutch elm disease ravaged the countryside in the 1960s and 1970s, destroying 25 million elms, and, even today, elms are confined to existence as a hedgerow shrub and understorey tree inwoods, succumbing to the disease as they reach a certain age.
Since it was first identified in the UK in 2011–2012, ash dieback has been sweeping across the UK and is lik ely to kill many millions of mature trees and saplings. This loss of large numbers of ash trees, one of our most common natives, in hedgerows and shelterbelts will have profound and negative effects on soil erosion, livestock and water management. The beauty of our natural countryside is also considerably diminished by the loss of trees. The Derbyshire Dales, the East Midlands, Northern Ireland and parts of Cumbria all have an abundance of ash trees and the loss of themtodieback will make radical changes to the landscape.
Oak trees, an evocative symbol of British history, are also at risk from acute oak declineand theoakprocessionarymoth, the latter of which poses a great risk to human health. The time to act is now, to ensure preservation of our countryside for future generations.
Woodland management can help to prevent a significant loss to any one particular disease by promoting the natural regeneration of a mix of species. Culling deer where grazing and browsing has reached unsustainable and damaging levels alleviates the loss of young saplings and planting a diverse mix of native species in areas dominated by a single species helps to improve the viability of the whole area and to provide a good environment for wildlife.
‘ Now is the time to act to ensure the vital preservation of our countryside’
Connecting existing woodland habitats by planting hedgerows or shelterbelts can help to boost biodiversity as plants, animals and birds are able to migrate between habitats. It also provides a varied food source for wildlife, strengthening the populations and in turn strengthening the surrounding landscape. Sympathetic hedgerow management, which allows them to grow wider and be cut less frequently, also provides these valuable corridors through the landscape for wildlife. Thewoodlandtrust isaregisteredcharity offering support, advice and a range of subsided planting options for your own landor community. Emailplant@woodland trust.org.uk or telephone 0330 333 5303
Correctmanagement of wooded areas, such as the Peakdistrict in Derbyshire, can help to limit the effects of diseases including ash dieback
Left: An ash tree showing symptoms of the Uk-wide ash dieback. Above: The Woodland Trust provides trees to community groups and schools across the UK, to help create new woodland habitats. Below: We must plant a more div erse range of nativ e species now, in order to protect our countryside