Connecting woodland owners, managers, and conservation groups across Berkshire.
Why are our woodlands important?
Only 11.5% of Great Britain remains as woodland habitat, with 1.3% of this being ancient semi-natural woodland; a valuable and irreplaceable resource.
In Berkshire, we are lucky to be surrounded by a diverse natural environment, with various areas of ‘Priority habitat’- meaning that this habitat is more valuable due to rarity and fast rate of decline- and is therefore of high importance to the specialist species that inhabit it. 66% of this priority habitat is woodland.
Areas of woodland are not just beneficial for wildlife. Being near green space can have a large impact on both physical and mental health, especially if the area is of high quality.
The importance of management
Due to fragmentation of many woodland areas, the natural structure of the woodland suffers as a result, and woodlands cannot maintain the natural processes (e.g. flooding) that provide the woodland with a varied structure and composition.
Unfortunately, many woodlands have fallen into mismanagement due to a lack of funding, or a lack of knowledge on how best to manage the woodland. This has left us with simplified woodland structures, often overgrazed by deer, with fewer tree species and little to no understory.
Simplified woodlands have led to a decline in many specialist woodland species. These include native birds, bats, small mammals and insects, such as the Lesser-spotted woodpecker, marsh tit, dormouse and Daubenton’s bat to name a few. Many of these species rely on an understory created by thinned woodland, areas of coppice, rides and glades to provide their necessary habitat.
Knowing what species are present in the woodland, and understanding their requirements is key to making the correct choice for management.
For management help and tool use guides, check out the TCV conservation handbooks.
The importance of connectivity
‘Landscape Scale Conservation’ is key to the Berkshire Biodiversity Strategy. Wildlife requires the ability to move and disperse between habitats, and we need to ensure that the elements required for their lifecycle can be found throughout the landscape.
If our woodlands are managed to provide habitat throughout Berkshire, these important species will be able to disperse and as a result, will have greater resilience to changing factors such as climate.
Communication between woodland owners/managers, conservation groups and the public is, therefore, more important than ever. The Berkshire Woodland Network aims to bridge communication between different areas of Berkshire, keeping us updated on what is going on where and how we can keep conserving our valuable woodlands for the future!
The Berkshire Woodland Network
The Berkshire Woodland Network has been created with the intention of improving communication between everyone involved in Berkshire woodlands- whether they be landowners, wildlife trusts, natural history experts, conservation groups, councils, or “Friends of” groups.
We want to improve how woodlands are managed in Berkshire. This can be achieved with a platform where members can share advice and attend events to learn about woodland management- whether the woodland is being managed for people or for wildlife.
If you are interested in joining the network, please contact us.
Let’s conserve our valuable woodlands for the future!