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Ancient Woodlands. Replacing the Irreplaceable?

Ancient Woodlands: Living Monuments.

Ancient Woodlands: Living Monuments.

Ancient woodlands are our rainforests. Beyond their massive ecological value, they culturally define who we are. This value can be seen in our emotional responses when ancient woodlands come under threat. Often perceived as fragments of a primeval ‘wildwood’ – a living link to the woodland from the end of the Ice Age – in truth, these ancient woods are not fragments of primeval wildwood, but have been influenced by human activity over thousands of years. Indeed, it is often the cultural characteristics of the surviving fragments of ancient woods that make them so special.

Half of our ancient woodland has disappeared since the Second World War and now, in present day England, only about 2{53bda441ceb198a7fc2015bac25f61bced733061ffa795d606542d0dab7ad94a} of ancient woodland cover remains.  Since the 1970s, an awareness of the need to protect and restore this woodland increased until, relatively recently, ancient woodlands were rightly seen as sacrosanct and were robustly protected by the planning system.

Recent signs suggest new planning policy will undermine protection for our ancient wooded landscapes. Ancient woods now appear to be fair game for major development, and no amount of green-wash implying that ancient woodland can effectively be removed from a site and re-established elsewhere by new tree planting or ‘translocation’ can remove this threat. Ancient woods are much more than a group of trees; they are unique living monuments that link us back to our roots and culture. They are irreplaceable.

I'm a Chartered Arboriculturist at AWA Tree Consultants Ltd. As well as detailing our recent tree survey and arboricultural consultant work, this blog includes wide ranging arboricultural musings, including tree facts, opinion and anecdotes on trees in human culture.

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