Take a look at the images of trees and woodland taken during my walk today. Can you spot the ancient woodland? A clue – only one of them is truly ancient woodland! Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me which one you think it is.
An old boy in Crowhurst where I grew up once told me “N’er go to sleep under a Beech tree ‘cos you may n’er wake up again!” (Beech trees have a reputation for suddenly dropping large boughs and branches without warning).
These trees are very old, but are they in Ancient Woodland?
Mostly planted following the 1987 Great Storm, these conifers have done well on the clay and sandstone soils.
The orange arrow helps mark the public footpath that was reinstated after the storm obliterated the original path.
Is this Ancient Woodland?
Close to the steep edges of one of the ghylls draining the forest into Willingford Stream the footpath has exposed the roots of Birch, Alder, Hazel and other quick growing trees and shrubs.
In the background at the centre of this image is a venerable Oak tree that fell during one of the last years’ storms.
It was probably hundreds of years old and, unless it is cut up for wood, will spend many, many years as home and food for insect larvae and fungi, and as a hiding and overwintering place for countless animals and small invertebrates.
Eventually, the fungi and micro-organisms will break the wood tissues down completely, recycling the nutrients back into the woodland soil for the next generations of trees.
What do you think? Ancient Woodland?
Apart from the obvious conifer plantation, you might be forgiven for thinking all the other photos were of ancient woodland – but you’d be wrong. With one exception they are what is classified as ‘National Forest Inventory’ not Ancient Woodland, but they demonstrate the vital importance of preserving pieces of nearby ancient woodland as reservoirs of plant and animal species that can move out to recolonise replanted woodland and turn it back to something that soon resembles ancient woodland.
But which one really is Ancient Woodland? Email Tree Warden Doug at email@example.com to find out.