Copying ancient woodlands: a positive perspective

Abstract

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 15 requires global restoration of degraded ecosystems including complex examples. A case is made for the deliberate creation of woodlands with ancient characteristics. In the temperate biome, efforts to restore such communities will be accelerated by intervention facilitating natural succession. Negative rhetoric regarding the irreplaceability of ancient communities may hinder such considerations. Some facets of ancient woods are irreplaceable and their destruction is discouraged. Nevertheless, as human population and impact increase, this resource will degrade. Though understanding of many ecological processes is incomplete, ecological restoration requires proactivity. Physicians need not fully understand the healing process to rely upon it and, fortunately, ecology carries similar intangible reliables; natural succession occurs and complex communities actively self-assemble. Accepting this, then woodland with many characteristics of ancientness can be deliberately created. Thermodynamic principles may assist and seeking to initiate a biodiversity cascade is proposed as a pragmatic approach. The intricacy that defines ancient woodland might thus be assembled in timescales of less than a century. Ascension Island’s anthropogenic cloud forest provides a precedent. For utilitarian purposes, human-mediated plant dispersal (deliveries of plants to the island), led to the transformation of species-poor, fern-dominated hillsides to species–rich cloud forest in about 100 years. How much more could be achieved with appropriate ecological intention?

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Abrego N, Oicanen P, Viner I, Nordén J, Penttilä R, Dahlberg A, Heilmann-Clausen J, Somervuo P, Ovaskainen O, Schigel D (2016) Reintroduction of threatened fungal species via inoculation. Biol Cons 203:120–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ainsworth G (1976) Introduction to the history of mycology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  3. Allison SK (2007) You can’t not choose: embracing the role of choice in ecological restoration. Restor Ecol 15:601–605

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Andersson R (2012) Applications for dendrochronology in ancient woodlands. Part 1: coppice. In: Rotherham ID, Handley C, Agnoletti M, Sanojlik T (eds) Trees beyond the wood: an exploration of concepts of woods, forests and trees. Conference proceedings. Wildtrack Publishing, Sheffield, pp 47–50

  5. Aravanopoulos FA (2016) Conservation and monitoring of tree genetic resources in temperate forests. Curr For Rep 2:119–129

    Google Scholar 

  6. Ascension Island Government (2016) http://www.ascension-island.gov.ac/government/conservation/our-species/endemic-plants/. Accessed 8 July 2016

  7. Ball DF, Stevens PA (1981) The role of ‘ancient’ woodlands in conserving ‘undisturbed’ soils in Britain. Biol Cons 19:163–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Barnosky AD, Matzke N, Tomiya S, Wogan GOU, Swartz B, Quental TB, Marshall C, McGuire JL, Lindsey EL, Maguire KC, Mersey B, Ferrer EA (2011) Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature 471:51–57

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Bengtsson V, Hedin J, Niklasson M (2012) Veteranisation of oak—managing trees to speed up habitat production. In: Rotherham ID, Handley C, Agnoletti M, Samojlik T (eds) Trees beyond the wood : an exploration of concepts of woods, forests and trees. Conference proceedings. Wildtrack Publishing, Sheffield, pp 61–68

  10. Boatmun DL (2010) Quantum world: the wave nature of our universe. Xlibris, Bloomington

    Google Scholar 

  11. Bossuyt B, Hermy M (2000) Restoration of the understorey layer of recent forest bordering ancient forest. Appl Veg Sci 3:43–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bradshaw AD (1983) The reconstruction of ecosystems. J Appl Ecol 20:1–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Bradshaw AD (1996) Underlying principles of restoration. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 53:3–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Brainard J, Lovett A, Bateman I (2003) Social and Environmental Benefits of Forestry Phase 2: carbon sequestration benefits of woodland. Report to Forestry Commission. Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

  15. Buglife (2011) Scottish invertebrate habitat management: Deadwood. Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, Peterborough

  16. Carlsson S, Bergman K, Jansson N, Ranius T, Milberg P (2016) Boxing for biodiversity: evaluation of an artificially created decaying wood habitat. Biodivers Conserv 25:393–405

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cathrine C, Amphlett A (2011) Deadwood: importance and management. In Practice 73:11–15

    Google Scholar 

  18. Catling DC, Stroud S (2012) The greening of green mountain, Ascension Island. In: Joachim M, Silver M (eds) Post-Sustainable: Blueprints for a Green Planet. Metropolis Books, New York. http://faculty.washington.edu/dcatling/Catling2012_GreenMountainSubmitted.pdf. Accessed 8 July 2016

  19. CBD (2010) Convention on biological diversity. Strategic plan for biodiversity 2011–2020, including Aichi biodiversity targets. https://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/ Accessed 11 July 2016

  20. Clements FE (1916) Plant succession: an analysis of the development of vegetation. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, p 242

    Google Scholar 

  21. Cohn EVJ, Trueman IC, Packham JR (2000) More than just trees. Aspects Appl Biol 58:93–100

    Google Scholar 

  22. Commission Forestry (2003) The management of semi-natural woodlands: 1 lowland acid beech and oak woods. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  23. Community Woodlands Association (2016) http://www.communitywoods.org/. Accessed 8 July 2016

  24. Cowles HC (1899) The ecological relations of the vegetation on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. D. The Established Dunes. Bot Gazette 27:361–391

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Crow P (2004) Trees and forestry on archaeological sites in the UK: a review document. Forest Research. Web version January 2004. Accessed 31 Aug 2017

  26. Crowther K, Bliss A, Smith PL (2009) Adder’s-tongue: A 13-year translocation story. In Practice 64:18–22

  27. Duffey E (1964) The terrestrial ecology of Ascension Island. J Appl Ecol 1:219–251

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Elliot R (1982) Faking nature. Inquiry 25:81–93

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Fahrig L (2007) Estimating minimum habitat for population persistence. In: Lindenmayer DB, Hobbs RJ (eds) (2007) Managing and designing landscapes for conservation: Moving from perspectives to principles. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, pp 64–80

  30. Falk S (2014) Wood-pastures as reservoirs for invertebrates. In: Hartel T, Plieninger T (eds) European wood-pastures in transition: a socio-ecological approach. Routledge, Abingdon, pp 132–145

    Google Scholar 

  31. Filip GM, Parks CA, Baker FA, Daniels SE (2004) Artificial inoculation of decay fungi into Douglas-fir with rifle or shotgun to produce wildlife trees in western Oregon. Western J Appl For 193:211–215

    Google Scholar 

  32. Fletcher M (1991) Moss grower’s handbook. Seventy Press, Reading

  33. Foreman D (2004) Rewilding North America: a vision for conservation in the 21st Century. Island Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  34. Forest Enterprise (2002) Life in the deadwood: a guide to managing deadwood in Forestry Commission forests. Forest Enterprise, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  35. Forestry Commission England (2010) Practice guide: Managing ancient and native woodland in England. Forestry Commission England, Bristol

    Google Scholar 

  36. Forestry Commission Scotland (2008) Scotland’s woodlands and the historic environment. Forestry Commission Scotland, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  37. Forman RTT (1995) Land mosaics: the ecology of landscapes and regions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  38. Francis JL, Morton AJ (2001) Enhancement of amenity woodland field layers in Milton Keynes. Br Wildl 12:244–251

    Google Scholar 

  39. Gilbert OL, Anderson P (1998) Habitat creation and repair. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  40. Glen E, Price EAC, Caporn SJM, Carroll JA, Jones LM, Scott R (2016) Evaluation of topsoil inversion in UK habitat creation and restoration schemes. Restor Ecol. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12403

  41. Gonzalez P, Nielson RP, Lenihan JM, Drapek RJ (2010) Global patterns in the vulnerability of ecosystems to vegetation shifts due to climate change. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 19:755–768

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Grant A (2006) The creation of small woodlands on farms. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  43. Groninger J, Skousen J, Angel P, Barton C, Burger J, Zipper C (2007) Mine reclamation practices to enhance forest development through natural succession. Forest reclamation advisory 5. The Appalachian regional reforestation initiative. Forest reclamation advisory

  44. Hanberry BB, Reed FN, Safford HD, Allison SK, Dey DC (2015) Restoration is preparation for future. J Forest 113:425–429

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Harding PT, Rose F (1986) Pasture-woodlands in lowland Britain: a review of their importance for wildlife conservation. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Huntingdon

    Google Scholar 

  46. Haw K (2016) Ancient woodland soils. In: Haw K (ed) Secrets of the soil. Wood Wise: Woodland conservation news. The Woodland Trust, Grantham

    Google Scholar 

  47. Henle K, Davies KF, Kleyer M, Margules C, Settele J (2004) Predictors of species sensitivity to fragmentation. Biodivers Conserv 13:207–251

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Hilmo O (2002) Growth and morphological response of old-forest lichens transplanted into a young and an old Picea abies forest. Ecography 25:329–335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Hobbs RJ, Hallett LM, Ehrlich PR, Mooney HA (2011) Intervention ecology: applying ecological science in the twenty-first century. Bioscience 61:442–450

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Honnay O, Verhaeghe W, Hermy M (2001) Plant community assembly along dendritic networks of small forest streams. Ecology 82:1691–1702

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Honnay O, Verheyen K, Butaye J, Jacquemyn H, Bossuyt B, Hermy M (2002) Possible effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change on the range of forest plant species. Ecol Lett 5:525–530

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. ICOMOS (2008) Québec Declaration On the Preservation of the Spirit of Place http://www.international.icomos.org/quebec2008/quebec_declaration/pdf/GA16_Quebec_Declaration_Final_EN.pdf. Accessed 30 Aug 2017

  53. Irmler U, Arp H, Nötzold R (2010) Species richness of saproxylic beetles in woodlands is affected by dispersion ability of species, age and stand size. J Insect Conserv 14:227–235

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Jansson N, Ranius T, Larsson A, Milberg P (2009) Boxes mimicking tree hollows can help conservation of saproxylic beetles. Biodivers Conserv 18:3891–3908

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Johnson J, Evans C, Brown N, Skeates S, Watkinson S, Bass D (2014) Molecular analysis shows that soil fungi from ancient semi-natural woodland exist in sites converted to non-native conifer plantations. Forestry 87:705–717

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Jüriado I, Liira J, Csencsics D, Widmer I, Adolf C, Kohv K, Scheidegger C (2011) Dispersal ecology of the endangered woodland lichen Lobaria pulmonaria in managed hemiboreal forest landscape. Biodivers Conserv 20:1803–1819

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Katz E (1992) The big lie: human restoration of nature. Res Philos Technol 12:231–241

    Google Scholar 

  58. Keenleyside C, Tucker GM (2010) Farmland abandonment in the EU: an assessment of trends and prospects. Report prepared for WWF. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London

  59. Kennedy C, Southwood T (1984) The number of species of insects associated with British Trees, A re-analysis. J Anim Ecol 53:455–478

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Kolanowska M (2013) Niche conservatism and the future potential range of Epipactis helleborine (Orchidaceae). PLoS ONE 8:e77352

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  61. Komonen A (2003) Hotspots of insect biodiversity in boreal forests. Conserv Biol 17:976–981

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Leake JR, McKendrick SL, Bidartondo M, Read DJ (2004) Symbiotic germination and development of the myco-heterotroph Monotropa hypopitys in nature and its requirement for locally distributed Tricholoma spp. New Phytol 163:405–423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Leakey R, Lewin R (1995) The sixth extinction: Patterns of life and the future of humankind. Anchor Books, New York

    Google Scholar 

  64. Light A (2009) Faking art and faking nature: the art analogy and restoration ecology. Cybergeo. http://cybergeo.revues.org/22275. Accessed 24 August 2016

  65. Marren P (1990) Britain’s ancient woodland: woodland heritage. David and Charles, Newton Abbot

    Google Scholar 

  66. Marton-Lefèvre J (2010) It’s now or never to stop the biodiversity crisis. http://www.iucn.org/content/it%E2%80%99s-now-or-never-stop-biodiversity-crisis. Accessed 7 July 2016

  67. McPherson S (2016) Britain’s treasure islands: a journey to the UK overseas territories. Redfern Natural History Productions, Poole

    Google Scholar 

  68. Mitsch WJ, Jørgensen SE (2003) Ecological engineering: a field whose time has come. Ecol Eng 20:363–377

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Mitsch WJ, Wu X, Nairn RW, Weihe PE, Wang N, Deal R, Boucher CE (1998) Creating and restoring wetlands: a whole-ecosystem experiment in self-design. Bioscience 48:1019–1030

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Mölder A, Schmidt M, Engel F, Schönfelder E, Schulz F (2015) Bryophytes as indicators of ancient woodlands in Schleswig-Holstein (Northern Germany). Ecol Ind 54:12–30

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Morris RKA, Barham P (2007) The habitats directive as a driver for sustainable development in the coastal zone: The example of the Humber Estuary. In: Larson BA (ed) Sustainable development research advances. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, pp 109–138

  72. Morris RKA, Alonso I, Jefferson RG, Kirby KJ (2006) The creation of compensatory habitat—can it secure sustainable development? J Nature Conserv 14:106–116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Natural England, Forestry Commission (2014) Standing advice for ancient woodland and veteran trees. 7 April 2014

  74. Nisbet TR, Thomas H (2006) The role of woodland in flood control: a landscape perspective. In: Davies B, Thompson S (eds) Proceedings of the 14th Annual International Association for Landscape Ecology (UK) 2006 Conference on Water and the Landscape, pp 118–125

  75. Nordén J, Pentillä R, Siitonen J, Tomppo E, Ovaskainen O (2013) Specialist species of wood-inhabiting fungi struggle while generalists thrive in fragmented boreal forests. J Ecol 101:701–712

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Odum HT (1983) Systems ecology. Wiley, New York (reprinted in 1994 by University Press of Colorado, Niwot, CO)

  77. Ólafsson E (2007) Invertebrate fauna on Surtsey. The Surtsey Research Society. http://www.surtsey.is/pp_ens/biola_4.htm. Accessed 11 July 2016

  78. Ortega U, Duñabeitia M, Menendez S, Gonzalez-Murua C, Majada J (2004) Effectiveness of mycorrhizal inoculation in the nursery on growth and water relations of Pinus radiata in different water regimes. Tree Physiol 24:65–73

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  79. Perrins CM (2010) Introduction. In: Savill PS, Perrins CM, Kirby KJ, Fisher N (eds) Wytham Woods: Oxford’s ecological laboratory. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 1–17

    Google Scholar 

  80. Pickett STA, Parker VT, Fiedler PL (1992) The new paradigm in ecology: implications for conservation biology above the species level. In: Fiedler PL, Jain SK (eds) Conservation Biology: The theory and practice of nature conservation and management. Chapman and Hall, New York, pp 91–125

    Google Scholar 

  81. Rackham O (1986) The history of the countryside: The classic history of Britain’s landscape, flora and fauna. J. M. Dent, London

    Google Scholar 

  82. Ranius T, Niklasson M, Berg N (2009) Development of tree hollows in pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). Forest Ecol Manag 257:303–310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Read H (1999) Veteran trees: a guide to good management. English Nature, Peterborough

    Google Scholar 

  84. Renowden G (2005) The truffle book. Limestone Hills Publishing, Limestone

    Google Scholar 

  85. Rey Benayas JM, Bullock JM, Newton AC (2008) Creating woodland islets to reconcile ecological restoration, conservation, and agricultural land use. Front Ecol Environ 6:329–336

    Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Rodrigues RR, Lima RAF, Gandolfi S, Nave AG (2009) On the restoration of high diversity forests: 30 years of experience in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Biol Cons 142:1242–1251

    Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Rose F (1992) Temperate forest management: its effects on bryophyte and lichen floras and habitats. In: Bates JW, Farmer AM (eds) Bryophytes and lichens in a changing environment. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 211–233

    Google Scholar 

  88. Rosenzweig C, Karoly D, Vicarelli M, Neofotis P, Wu Q, Casassa G, Menzel A, Root TL, Estrella N, Seguin B, Tryjanowski P, Liu C, Rawlins S, Imeson A (2008) Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature 453:353–358

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  89. Ryan L (2013) Translocation and ancient woodland. The Woodland Trust, Grantham

    Google Scholar 

  90. Schenk G (1997) Moss gardening: including lichens, liverworts, and other miniatures. Timber Press Inc, Oregon

    Google Scholar 

  91. Schmidt M, Mölder A, Schönfelder E, Engel F, Schmiedel I, Culmsee H (2014) Determining ancient woodland indicator plants for practical use: a new approach developed in northwest Germany. For Ecol Manag 330:228–239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Schneider ED, Kay JJ (1994) Life as a manifestation of the second law of themodynamics. Math Comput Modeling 19:25–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Seaton P, Ramsay M (2005) Growing orchids from seed. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Google Scholar 

  94. Shaffer ML (1981) Minimum population sizes for species conservation. Bioscience 31:131–134

    Article  Google Scholar 

  95. Shaw PJA (2009) Succession on the PFA/gypsum trial mounds at Drax power station: the first fifteen years. J Pract Ecol Conserv 8:7–19

    Google Scholar 

  96. Smith PL (2014) Lichen translocation with reference to species conservation and habitat restoration. Symbiosis 62:17–28

    Article  Google Scholar 

  97. Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) International Science & Policy Working Group (2004) The SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. www.ser.org & Tucson: Society for Ecological Restoration International

  98. Society for Ecological Restoration International and IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (2004) Ecological Restoration, a means of conserving biodiversity and sustaining livelihoods. Society for Ecological Restoration International, Tucson, Arizona, USA and IUCN, Gland

    Google Scholar 

  99. Spencer JW, Kirby KJ (1992) An inventory of ancient woodland for England and Wales. Biol Conserv 62:77–93

    Article  Google Scholar 

  100. Tilman D, May RM, Lehman CL, Nowak MA (1994) Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. Nature 371:65–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Tofts RJ, Orton PD (1998) The species accumulation curve for agarics and boleti from a Caledonian pinewood. Mycologist 12:98–102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  102. Townsend M (2000) An overview. In: Thakray R (ed) Why the UK’s ancient woodland is still under threat. The Woodland Trust, Grantham

  103. Trust Woodland (2015) Wood wise: woodland conservation news. Woodland Trust, Grantham

    Google Scholar 

  104. UCN/SSC (International Union for Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission) (2013) Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations. Version 1.0. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, p viiii

  105. Vogel S (2003) The nature of artifacts. Environ Ethics 25:149–168

    Article  Google Scholar 

  106. Watson A (2001) Composing Avebury. World Archaeol 33:296–314

    Article  Google Scholar 

  107. Watson, B (2006) Trees: their use, management, cultivation and biology. A comprehensive guide. The Crowood Press Ltd, Marlborough

  108. Whisenant S (2005) Managing and directing natural succession. In: Mansourian S, Vallauri D, Dudley N (eds) Forest restoration in landscapes: beyond planting trees. Springer, New York, pp 257–260

    Google Scholar 

  109. Wilkinson DM (2004) The parable of Green Mountain: Ascension Island, ecosystem construction and ecological fitting. J Biogeogr 31:1–4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  110. Wilson EO (2016) Half-earth: our planet’s fight for life. Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York

    Google Scholar 

  111. Woodland Trust (2011) Technical note: native woodland creation—measures to mitigate drought conditions. Woodland Trust, Grantham

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Professor Stuart K. Allison, Dr. David Gledhill and anonymous reviewers for invaluable critique and to former students (especially Tom Docker and Hilary Phillips) for insights.

Funding

This work was supported by Dr. Nicholas Howden and University of Bristol Faculty of Engineering.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul L. Smith.

Additional information

This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Forest and plantation biodiversity.

Communicated by Matts Lindbladh.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Smith, P.L. Copying ancient woodlands: a positive perspective. Biodivers Conserv 27, 1041–1053 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-017-1494-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • ‘Facsimile’
  • Woodland creation
  • Aichi
  • Biodiversity cascade