ancient beech tree, photo by Nick Turner, for Woodland Trust, used with permission
Woodland cover in the UK has more than doubled over the past 100 years, but many of the new trees are non-native. Our native woodlands are in poor ecological condition and woodland wildlife is declining.
Woodlands are vital. They offer valuable habitats for a range of wildlife, they capture carbon to help reduce the effects of climate change and they offer pleasant places for us to spend time, contributing to positive mental and physical well being.
Woods and trees in the UK currently face a variety of threats to their very existence. These include climate change, pollution and destroying woodland to make way for so called green infrastructure such as high speed rail links.
We need to plant more trees and create new woodlands, but even more we need to protect the ones we have. A mature woodland is so much more than the trees, it is home to a wide variety of plants and animals from mosses and lichens growing on the trees, to the birds, mammals and insects that live in the woodland. A plantation of newly planted trees will take years, even decades to create a natural community as rich as that found in a mature woodland. So we desperately need to stop cutting down healthy mature trees and we need to stop destroying mature woodland.