Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust

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Ancient Woodlands - Continued

Ancient woodlands may be separated according to whether the trees have developed naturally
throughout the wood's recorded history, or whether they have been replanted at any stage.


Types of Ancient Woodland

Ancient woodland is commonly divided into:
  • Ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW). This is apparently of natural origin, rather than artificially planted. This does not imply that the wood has remained untouched by human hand.  In all probability it will have been managed over the centuries by coppicing and may even have been clear-felled at certain times. In this case, it is assumed that the woodland has been restored by natural regeneration. These woodlands have never been cleared for some other use and the complex woodland ecosystem developed over hundreds of years remains more or less intact.
  • Ancient replanted woodland. Although continuously wooded, these areas have had the original tree cover replaced with newer plantings, usually within the last century and often with conifers. While woodlands of this type may have suffered a much greater level of disturbance than ASNW, they will still retain many of the plant species characteristic of ancient woodlands, even if only dormant in the seed bank in the soil.
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Note the uniform age of the trees and their layout in rows.

This indicates a planted woodland, while the Bluebells are an ancient woodland indicator species .

Ancient woodlands now account for less than 20% of Britain's wooded areas. Many of the ancient woods which still survive are small, with most being less than 20 hectares in area.

wpe4F.jpg (6433 bytes) Determining whether a wood is ancient or not requires a variety of detective work, from searching through historical documents and records, to careful observation of the woodland itself for landscape features and for Ancient Woodland Indicator Species.

Continue to Ancient Woodland Indicator Species