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

Country Life Every Week - - Athena -

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 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

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