A͌N͌C͌I͌E͌N͌T͌ W͌O͌O͌D͌L͌A͌N͌D͌ I͌N͌D͌I͌C͌A͌T͌O͌R͌S͌ to look out for from my BBC countryfile magazine.
Ancient woodland has been around for so long it has developed special communities of plants and animals not found elsewhere. It’s an important habitat and in sore need of protection.
Ancient woods are areas of woodland that have persisted since 1600 in England and Wales, and 1750 in Scotland. This is when maps started to be reasonably accurate so we can tell that these areas have had tree cover for hundreds of years. They are relatively undisturbed by human development. As a result, they are unique and complex communities of plants, fungi, insects and other microorganisms.
Just 2.4% of the UK is ancient woodland. That’s 52,000 sites covering 340,000 hectares. Those might sound like big numbers, but if those sites were combined, they would take up just three quarters of the Cairngorms National Park.
Ancient woods are our richest and most complex terrestrial habitat in the UK and they are home to more threatened species than any other. Centuries of undisturbed soils and accumulated decaying wood have created the perfect place for communities of fungi and invertebrates. Other specialist species of insects, birds and mammals rely on ancient woodlands.
Look out for these ancient woodland indicators:
▪︎Hart’s tongue fern.
▪︎ Lemon slug.
▪︎ Hard fern.
▪︎ Wood anemone.
▪︎ Lungwort lichens.
▪︎Lily of the valley.
▪︎ Small leaved lime.
❇Learn more about our British ancient woodlands from the sources below: