Posted 16th May by Peter Byrne
A new national network of organisations is collaborating to promote the value of wood pasture and parkland habitat
The Wood Pasture and Parkland Network (WPPN) will be shining a spotlight on the precious, ancient habitat which is home to many endangered species, yet is also a forgotten part of our landscape.
Wood pasture and parkland, such as Epping Forest, contain some of the oldest living trees in the country.
The decaying wood habitats which are found across wood pasture sites inside these trees are home to a variety of species, such as bats, birds, invertebrates, lichens and fungi.
The invertebrates relying on decaying wood are among the most threatened ecological groups in Europe, yet despite this, play a critical role (as does decaying wood fungi) for our wooded ecosystems.
Earlier this year, the IUCN assessed the status of 700 European beetles that live in decaying wood and found 18 per cent were threatened by extinction due to a lack of this habitat.
These primarily rely on traditional wood pasture and parkland sites that are now the most important reserves.
Megan Gimber, Key Habitats Officer at PTES said: "Wood pasture and parklands are positively teeming with life and are home to numerous rare and endangered species, which is why it’s so vital that they are preserved."
"Unlike other habitats such as ancient woodlands and meadows, there isn’t the public recognition of wood pasture and parkland, and the vital contribution to sustaining our wildlife they provide. Our conservation task is a greater challenge as a result, which is why we made this important series of videos."
The WPPN has compiled a list of videos (which can be viewed here) to raise awareness to this ecologically rich yet frequently forgotten habitat.
Suzanne Perry, Senior Specialist at Natural England concludes: "Wood pasture and parkland is currently under threat from a variety of factors including climate change, pollution, conversion to commercial forestry and tree disease."
"Therefore, we are delighted to be involved in this partnership, which will help raise awareness of these special places. Natural England hope this new partnership will also contribute to securing a dynamic future for this incredibly rich and diverse habitat."
Image courtesy of PTES