For All Woodland Creatures Great & Small
Thomas Simmons ponders the drawbacks of a peaceful summer lunch-break & insect free sandwiches in the gloom of an un-managed woodland…
Summer is absolutely wonderful.
We love summer!
Being a forester, however, means that between the months of May and September we accept that we will be crawled on, bitten, stung and generally irritated by invertebrates of all colors, shapes, sizes and leg configurations…
It’s quite incredible when you stop and look how many beetles, butterflies, bees and other woodland insects you can see in one small area. It’s been a while since I did a count but there can be thousands upon thousands of them.
But they’re certainly not everywhere.
If you want to eat your sandwich undisturbed (aaahh bliss) then seek out the darkest, most under-managed areas of the woodland and there you can be assured that you will find a considerable lack of creepy crawlies.
Apart from informing your sandwich-eating locations the density of insects also highlights the relevance and importance of ensuring open spaces within forest-scape.
Invertebrates underpin the ecology of our woodlands and are the sign of a healthy eco-system.
They also thrive in areas that have been opened up and cleared as they rely on the warmth of the sun and the thick vegetation that follows most forestry operations. This in turn allows for predators to move in and so the woodland once again becomes vibrant with wildlife.
Sunlight nourishes, encourages and supports many of our insects, partly due to the proliferation of plant life that occurs across the seasons. However 60% of all woodland invertebrates are also supported by deadwood, Standing or fallen, that 60% inhabit and/or eat the wood of the degrading tree. This is why it’s so important that we foresters leave wood in-situ, lying on the forest floor or even create larger habitat piles where feasible.
So as much as, in theory, we’d probably like to eat our sandwiches in a no-insect-zone in truth our aim is the exact opposite. We want to nurture our woodland to create those ideal environments for all creatures, great and small.
And after-all if there’s no beetles and bees then there’s no bats and birds either and we’re not going to let that happen!
Thanks for reading,
The Woodland Trust page on woodland invertebrates
From Forest Research – not all insects are good for our native woodlands, pests are covered here https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/biomass-energy-resources/fuel/woodfuel-production-and-supply/woodfuel-production/forestry-for-woodfuel-and-timber/woodland-health/biological-damage/
Another great resource from Forest Research includes a list of insect pests
Fun info for kids from the RSPB on woodland habitats
Good old Wikipedia on Woodlands
Tha National Geographic entry for Woodlands talks about woodland habitats around the world
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