Woodland edge showing the Autumn colours
Deer in a wood, Surprised by a Jay this painting is by Peter Bainbridge
Silver Birch on edge of a Scottish Bog
can conjure up a number of different images, most would be correct and each will produce a
different tree ecosystem type and hence the variety of bird and wildlife is likely to change depending on what type of
woodland you are in, and the terrain in which the wood is growing.
In Britain we have ancient woodlands, coppiced woodlands, manmade forestry woodlands and natural woodlands. All four are managed by man in some way over time, with the natural woodlands having man’s least direct input.
Wildlife generally flourishes best when the undercover is exposed to a good degree of sunlight, which generates the best diversity in the ecology in woodland, hence woodland edge is the best place for nature, and glades benefit wildlife because they are not much more than a small woodland edge within a wood, another useful pieces of Landscape either on the edge or in the wood is a pond for any water supply also encourages wildlife.
Woodlands today are generally for leisure pursuits, or timber production, the old forest such as the New Forest are generally of a Natural nature, and come under the ancient woodland category due to its age. Most of the Kent woodlands are also ancient woodlands often with Bluebells, orchids and other old plants growing in them which are Key indicators of a woodlands age, these woods were traditionally coppiced for wood products, such as Firewood, Charcoal, Hope Poles, Hurdles, Fencing, Chairs, wooden gears, etc, today more industrial materials are used for these items, and many of the coppiced woodlands have been neglected, and are deteriorating at present, to the detriment of wildlife and the ecosystems that used to flourish in them, but I’m pleased to say the resurgence in the use of Logs for fires at present is starting to bring a few back into rotation. Man planted many good wood production spruce trees for just profit in mono culture blocks which over time have proved a wildlife wilderness compared to the mixed plantation they replaced, these woods are now coming to their harvesting age and I’m please many are being reverted back to a devise native tree plantation or woodland.
Harvest times for the wood from trees can range from a year for willow to make baskets, to up to 150 – 200 years for Oaks, although some trees are much older then this but in Britain trees over this age a few and far apart and often have tree preservation orders on them. The wood is also often damaged by either rot or disease.
Through photosynthesis the tree uses the leaves to produce food for the tree, this makes the tree grow outwards first laying down a soft sapwood which changes to a harder heartwood as the tree expands, it is only the outer edge of the tree namely the bark and the first few layers protected by it that are the living and functioning parts that give the tree life. The rings seen in the cross cut trunk or branch of a tree represents one year’s growth. Evergreen trees do not drop their leaves such as fir and spruce with their wood referred to as soft wood, deciduous trees drop their leaves each year and produce hardwood. If the tree is never harvested it will die, the cause could be the wind blows it down, as with the great storm of 1987, disease just look at what happened with the Dutch Elm Disease and today Ash die back or Oak pinhole borer (Platypus cylindrus), really old tree generally root out from the centre or the branches weight will tear it from the trunk allowing root or disease to enter the trees core.
Once cut down the wood will need to be dried out unless being used for a product that will need to be weaved, it can take 3 years plus for the wood to naturally dry out for some jobs, and the process can reduce its weight by over 50%. The time of year that the tree is cut can also have a bearing on the value for the end use of its timber.
|Woodman coppicing||Managed Woodland with Deer fencing|| Nuthatch a woodland bird painted by
Alan M Hunt
|Kent mixed hardwood wood, with felled Hornbean in forground||A woodland showing standards above under coppice wood, used for a pheasant shoot||Dead tree branch with Nuthatch|