Britain’s Ancient Woodlands and Forests are Disappearing

Deforestation in the UK Plants and trees are the lungs of the earth. Forests and woodlands capture much of the carbon dioxide and replenish the planet’s oxygen supply. More importantly, they support and sustain the planet’s densest collections of life and the livelihood of millions of people.

Now that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have reached a tipping point and the rates of deforestation in the UK have seriously declined, it’s only about time to walk the climate talk.

Industrial Revolution

Britain’s ancient woodlands and forests have disappeared since the early 19th century to offset the demands put on the British Navy and developing companies. Charcoal was needed in vast quantities to smelt iron, produce gunpowder, power steam engines, and heat buildings.

Modern-Day Deforestation

Not much has changed since the Industrial Revolution. Forests are still disappearing due to anthropogenic acts such as slash-and-burn farming and conversion of woodlands into arable land or commercial and residential development.

Woodland management experts such as Greencut Horticulture suggest that there are countless sustainable and cost-effective ways to meet demands on land and timber without cutting down ancient trees.

Younger woodlands can be managed using ancient methods, such as coppicing, to stimulate new growth faster. Coppiced woodlands can produce great amounts of sustainable timber without the need to replant.

Why Protect Ancient Forests?

While there have been many efforts to restore woodlands in the UK, urban sprawl and an increasing population will override them. Forests that have attained great age are special because they exhibit unique ecological features. The trees are big and old and can trap more carbon dioxide than younger ones. They tend to grow faster too.

But apart from the trees, the forest itself is an ecologically important place, because it has a big influence on regional climate. Ancient forests house countless species that have adapted to the average conditions in that area, and removing their primary shelter will ultimately destroy the equilibrium.

Forest ecosystems play a major role in keeping the earth stable. Old or young, Britain’s woodlands are disappearing at a faster rate than the Amazonian rainforest, and there is no way that this is good.