Encouraging wildlife to your woodlandAndrew Staib2020-10-05T10:46:44+01:00
Encouraging wildlife to your woodland
The best way to encourage wildlife to your woodland is by creating a diverse range of habitats. Supporting wildlife with nest boxes for birds can also help. Also, choosing tree species which create food and nectar sources for wildlife is important.
Invertebrates rely on a diversity of habitats with their complex life cycles meaning they need a range of conditions. Generally native plants are more valuable to invertebrates than introduced species. Adult insects often depend on woodland trees and shrubs for nectar and pollen. Different species rely on different woodland habitats for example, holly blue butterflies use ivy (Hedera helix), holly (Ilex) and buckthorn (Rhamnus) as larval plant food in open woodland habitats. Whereas, comma butterflies prefer a woodland edge habitat using nettle (Urtica dioica), willow (Salix) and elm (Ulmus) as their larval food plants. Also, ringlet butterflies enjoy grasses on woodland rides. (TCV)
Woodland management for birds
Birds require a suitable breeding habitat. This can be achieved on edges, glades and open spaces within your woodland. Glorious Woodlands will only conduct management work outside of the nesting season (April to July) so as not to disturb birds. Making and putting up nest boxes and protecting existing nest sites are important. Insect-eating birds need trees that support a large and diverse insect population, such as oak. Old or dying trees which have holes and loose bark as well as dense, thorny shrubs provide a good site for nests. Evergreen trees provide shelter over winter.
Woodland management for reptiles and amphibians
Woodland management for reptiles requires habitat protection and freedom from disturbance. For example, allowing hedgerows, rides, glades and other woodland edge habitats to develop coarse grasses and low shrubs protects habitats. When wood and hedge-banks are overgrown, cutting them back on south and west sides allows the sun to reach the ground. Glorious Woodlands make sure pre-existing hibernation sites are left untouched and consider these in winter clearance operations. Creating marshy areas or ponds improves the conditions for grass snakes. Undisturbed areas such as piles of leaves, deadwood and stacks of logs offer a place throughout winter for reptiles. Woodland ponds that are left undisturbed with plenty of weed growth and varying depths of water are important for amphibians. The Conservation Volunteers booklet offers more details on woodland management for reptiles and amphibians.
Woodland management for mammals
A diverse range of mammals benefits a woodland ecosystem. Winter cereals are an important food source for mammals such as deer (in many parts of England and Wales, natural regeneration of woodlands is impossible without protection against deer). Regulations mean that badgers are protected against killing, injury and disturbance. Sloping copses and woods adjoining pasture, where badgers can forage for earthworms are good places for setts. Preserving trees helps maintain roost sites for bats as well as implementing bat boxes in your woodland. Dormice enjoy maturing coppice whereas young coppice is not a suitable habitat as it lacks the variety of food sources and nesting sites. Botanical diversity helps provide successful food sources for mammals through the seasons. Wood mice are found in high densities in mixed woodland. Mice prefer low vegetation areas, fallen branches and logs that they can make runways through. Food from seeds of oak (Quercus), beech (Fagus sylvatica), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), hawthorn (Crataegus) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplanatnus) are gathered by wood mice and stored over winter. (TCV)