It is thought that, following the last glaciation (when most of the UK was covered in ice) and before humans began to have an influence on the vegetation of the UK, the country was covered in natural forests known as wildwood. Very little of this wildwood remains today, it having been cleared for fuel and to create space for agriculture. However, those woods that do remain are there because humans, through the ages, have managed and maintained them to exploit the woodland for timber, fuel and food. Every wood has a history of interaction between humans and nature that can be revealed by careful observation. Oak woodland is the most species-rich habitat in the UK, so woods are good places to see wildlife – even in well used woods within and near cities.
Watch the following video clip and then answer the following question.
A microhabit is a small habitat within an ecosystem, which supports the survival of certain animals or plants. How many different microhabitats did you notice in the clip?
The trees provide nesting, roosting and feeding places for birds. Open areas (glades and clearings) without trees are important for certain plants, butterflies and other insects. Dead wood provides habitat for invertebrates and fungi. Dead vegetation on the woodland floor is important for fungi and invertebrates.
So woodland is a diverse habitat, rich in wildlife, that needs to be managed to maintain that richness.