Ancient woodland

Ancient woodland is a term used in the United Kingdom to refer specifically to woodland that has existed continuously since 1600 or before in England and Wales (or 1750 in Scotland). Before those dates, planting of new woodland was uncommon, so a wood present in 1600 was likely to have developed naturally.[1] The analogous American term is "old growth forest". For many species of animal and plant, ancient woodland sites provide the sole habitat, and for many others, conditions on these sites are much more suitable than those on other sites. Ancient woodland in the UK, like rainforest in the tropics, is home to rare and threatened species, more than any other UK habitat. For these reasons ancient woodland is often described as an irreplaceable resource, or 'critical natural capital'.[2] Ancient woodland is formally defined on maps by Natural England and equivalent bodies. Many ancient woodlands have legal protection of various types, but it is not automatically the case that any ancient woodland is protected. Woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of primary or secondary succession. Higher densities and areas of trees, with largely closed canopy, provide extensive and nearly continuous shade and are referred to as forest. Conservationists have worked hard to preserve woodlands. For ex

mple, the woodlands in Northwest Indiana have been preserved as part of the Indiana Dunes.[1][2][3] Woodland is used in British woodland management to mean any smaller area covered in trees, however dense. (Forest is usually used in the British Isles only for more extensive wooded areas, again, regardless of density and also including Royal forests, which may not be wooded at all). The term Ancient Woodland is used in British nature conservation to refer to any wooded land that has existed for a very long period (equivalent to the American term old growth forest). Woodlot is a closely related American term, which refers to a stand of trees generally used for firewood. While woodlots often technically have closed canopies, they are so small that light penetration from the edge makes them ecologically closer to woodland than forest. An old-growth forest (also termed primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest, late seral forest, or in Britain, ancient woodland) is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance, and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and in some cases may be classified as a climax community.[1] Old-growth features include diversity of tree-related structures that serve as diversified wildlife habitat that leads to higher bio-diversity of the forested ecosystem. Diversified tree structure includes multi-layered canopies and canopy gaps, high variance of tree heights and diameters, diversity of decaying classes and sizes of woody debris, and diversity of tree species.