Urban Ancient Woodland in Britain’s Modern Landscape

Woo, Holly; Davies, Sarah-Jane; Maseyk, Kadmiel and Wheeler, Philip (2021). Urban Ancient Woodland in Britain’s Modern Landscape. In: Ecology Across Borders 2021, 12-15 Dec 2021, Liverpool, UK.

URL: https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/events/ec...


Ancient woodland covers around 2.5% of the UK’s land surface. It harbours species-rich communities including ancient woodland indicator plants, which provide evidence of a constant landscape that has been under traditional management for several centuries. Despite their protection in the planning process, when urban development expands these woodlands can become islands within an urban matrix. In this context, woodland plant communities may be affected by pollutants, compaction of soils, changing hydrology, invasive species, habitat fragmentation or isolation.

We investigated the distribution of ancient woodland in the UK and assessed the land use surrounding these sites to identify ‘urban ancient woodlands’ that were near human-dominated land cover. 10.4% of ancient woodland was found to be within 100 metres of land classed as urban fabric in the 2018 CORINE land cover data. This small but significant proportion of ancient woodland is likely to be affected by the impacts of urbanisation.

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