|ALDER / WILLOW CARR - WET WOODLAND
Alder and Willow are trees
which thrive on wet and /or waterlogged soils. Both species will commonly be found along
the banks of streams and rivers and wherever poor drainage results in wet soils. A natural
process of succession will also lead to wetlands and marshes eventually becoming wet
woodland. Wetlands and marshes naturally gradually dry out through siltation and
evaporation. As the ground becomes dry enough to support tree growth, Alder and Willow
will gradually grow up and replace existing vegetation, leading to the development of wet
woodland. Further drying out of the land leads naturally into a drier woodland type
dominated by other broadleaf trees such as Oak. The final dominant tree species will
depend largely on soil type.
picture on the left is typical of wet woodland. Willow often topples over, so that
horizontal trunks dot the woodland. Provided the trunk retains even a small connection to
the roots, the stem will regenerate new shoots, which grow up into new trunks.
Wet woodlands are potentially extremely diverse areas.
Willow will support a staggering number of invertebrates (450 species). A great variety of birds are therefore attracted
to wet woodland because of the invertebrate bounty on offer. The woodland floor abounds in
plants which favor wet soils, such as sedges and rushes. A great variety of mosses and
ferns also thrive in the humid atmosphere of the woodland.
In times past, wet woodland would have been common in
Britain, particularly on the sides and in the bottom of poorly drained river valleys.
Extensive drainage for development of poor, marshy land has meant that wet woodland has
become something of a rarity and is one of the habitats selected for conservation action
in the Devon Biodiversity Action Plan.
Continue to Types
of Coniferous Woodland