What is ancient woodland? Ancient Woodland sites have been continuously wooded since at least 1600AD and have diverse, stable communities of wild plants and animals. Each wood has its own particular communities, influenced by factors such as small scale variations in soils, wetness, shade and past and present land management practices.
Typical flora includes oak, hazel, ash, field maple, small-leaved lime, alder, beech, bluebell, wood anemone, primroses, mosses and liverworts.
Diverse birdlife (e.g. pied flycatcher, redstart, wood warbler and woodcock) and very rich snail fauna in flushes, springs and drier areas can be present, along with badger, deer, woodmice, shrews, stoat and dormice. Leaf litter, herbaceous plants, mature trees and dead wood are all used by woodland invertebrates.
Some of the flora and fauna present do not like disturbance, have very limited powers of dispersal, and are confined to these woods.
What is happening to ancient woodland?
There has been a dramatic reduction in the area of ancient woodland in Wales.
Much woodland had been replaced by coniferous plantation, converted to agricultural use, over-grazed, or lost to development. Lack of management or neglect has also contributed to the decline.
Our remaining ancient woodland is scattered in small fragments across Wales, mirroring the state of this habitat type across the UK.
Although “bluebell woods” may seem common in some areas they are a globally rare habitat which, once destroyed, can never be re-created.
When you are out in the countryside; please follow the Countryside Code.