We have decided to compile a post about interesting forest facts, the dangers they face, and what would happen in a world without forests. We feel that it is our duty to do our bit by spreading knowledge about why it is so important to protect these unique and incredible parcels of land.
On a basic level, everyone is aware that trees are important to life as we know it. It is common knowledge that they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to regulate our atmosphere and create an environment that is safe and breathable.
What is a forest?
It is important to recognise that forests and woods across the UK are both areas of wooded land, the main difference between the two being that woods tend to be much smaller than forests.
By definition a forest is a large area covered predominantly in dense trees and undergrowth, or an area of wooded land. They are incredibly complex ecosystems that protect biodiversity and are home to thousands of native species of plants and animals. It is also very common to encounter areas of heath, grassland and farmland within larger forestry areas, all of which increase the biodiversity of the areas, attracting different types of wildlife and plant species.
The main indicators of ancient forest to look out for when you are walking are plant and animal species.
Why not try to spot some of these when you next find yourself in a local forest:
- Ferns – hard, scaley male and hearts tongue species to be precise
- Lemon slugs
- Wild garlic
If forests are so important then why are they so threatened?
Forests and woodlands, specifically ancient forests, that predate the 1600s are the most biodiverse and unique areas of the UK. These forests are fairly undisturbed by human development and over their years they have accumulated multitudes of unique and native species of both plants and animals that help to maintain natural order and biodiversity.
UK forests have been in a steady decline since the middle ages, with a significant drop occurring during the world wars when desperate need for coal and timber meant the demolition of lots of woodland, leading to forest cover being at an all-time low of just 5% with little consideration made about the environmental impacts that this would have at the time.
These numbers have been replenished since then, with forest cover now creating 12.9% of total land area of the UK, and only 2.5% of that is original ancient forest. However, forests are still under incredible threat from factors including inappropriate development, climate change, disease and population growth.
Although forestry England and the woodland trusts are working hard to preserve and protect our woodland areas, more needs to be done. It is impossible to replant a replenish an ancient forest as the biodiversity takes thousands of years to form. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to protect the areas of this woodland that still exists.
Forests are earths way of maintaining a breathable atmosphere, regulating global temperature and maintaining biodiversity.
With the increase of carbon in the atmosphere, trees have adapted to grow more leaves in order to maximise their carbon oxygen conversion, however this is still not enough. We need to work with the forests, expand them instead of removing them, replenish them in a diverse way to help them thrive and prevent disease due to monoculture. Only then will we be able to notice the real benefits that a healthy forests population can have on our environment.
So next time you are out in a forest why don’t you take some time to reflect, appreciate what is
around you, what nature has provided and how it benefits you as a part of the life on earth.