Woodland Wildlife

Woodlands are rich in biodiversity.

Woodlands provide a dark, damp and sheltered environment compared with open countryside. Within a woodland are a vast range of microhabitats, each offering slightly different mini-environments and living conditions and each one more suitable for some species than others.

Up in the top of the leafy canopy, conditions in summer are relatively exposed to the wind, sun and rain compared with the woodland floor - and that will be reflected in the different species of animals that live there. Even on something like a tree trunk, one side will tend to be darker and damper than the other and the invertebrates and mosses and lichens living there may change according to conditions.

Woodland habitat does not stop at ground level - underground is a whole different world where the parameters for life may be just as challenging and complicated as the parts above ground that humans see.

Woodlands have daily and annual cycles. They also change over longer timescales as trees die or are blown over or cut by people and are replaced by natural regeneration or planting.

Windblown plots or new planting offer open habitats to wildlife at the establishment stage. But as the saplings grow upwards and outwards, the tree branches interlock in the thicket stage when the ground flora then diminishes. Later they reach the pole stage and are thinned. The best trees are left to grow on into the maturing stands and the plants on the forest floor reappear as more sunlight filters through.

When the mature trees are felled or topple, the forest cycle starts all over again.