18 May 2011

Wildlife in the Woods

Sunday 22nd May 2011 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. An annual event, the theme for celebrations this time is forests, as part of the UN’s international year celebrating these biodiverse habitats.

Across the world, forests threatened with deforestation and the effects of climate change are home to some spectacular exotic species, including reptiles and amphibians. There is increasing pressure to put a monetary value on the ‘ecosystem services’ such landscapes provide, with the aim to offer better protection for forests and the people that depend on them. This includes not only processing CO2 but also preventing flooding, drought and disease.

The UK’s woodland habitats are just as valuable to amphibians and reptiles – species use them for hiding, hunting for food and to hibernate in for the winter. Like many toads, our mascot Widdy spends the winder hibernating in a woodland, before crossing the road to her breeding pond every spring. Wooded areas form an important element in the mosaic habitats that are precious for our reptiles - you may be lucky enough to spot an adder or common lizard bathing in the sun on a woodland path before it quickly slithers into the undergrowth.

Trees also provide humans with all sorts of hidden benefits, and many people fought for our forests in protests about the government sell-offs earlier in the year. After this precarious time for the UK’s forests, their future is now safe. Isn’t it?

"Protection for ancient woodland in the UK is still inadequate and our records show that over 400 ancient woods are currently under threat from development plans,” says Nick Sandford, Regional and Local Government Officer with the Woodland Trust. “Ensuring the long term protection of this incredibly precious and rare habitat is imperative, especially now that ownership of the public forest estate is no longer an immediate issue."

So, if you fancy celebrating trees this weekend, there are a number of things you can do to protect and enjoy the UK’s precious green resources:

• Practice your tree spotting and identification (you could also download an app to help!)

• Take your litter home with you when visiting woods and be cautious about fire risks, particularly in very dry weather

• Plan planting some native tree species in your garden or land (the best time for planting is between October and March)

• Volunteer to help manage local nature reserves and woodlands.  You can find out more about volunteering with Froglife on Hampton Nature reserve here

• Choose recycled wood and paper products, or ones that show the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo

• Keep an eye out for future campaigns to protect our precious woodland habitats

Photo by Lucy Benyon

1 comment:

Sam said...

The Woodland Trust have just launched a follow up campaign with the next-steps after the abandoned sales plans: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/panelaction