|Where the primary purpose of a woodland is economic,
for example, to produce a crop of trees for wood products or gamebirds for commercial
shoots, then management will undoubtedly be necessary. This may involve removing competing
species, controlling pests, predators and diseases, as well as ensuring adequate nutrition
for the economic species involved. No management is certainly an
option, but it is never going to produce an economically viable product.
Where the purpose of a woodland is for wildlife benefit or
conservation, no management might be considered to be an option. However, it is probably
safe to say that within Britain, no single woodland has remained uninfluenced by human
activities. This is because woodlands provided essential materials for every day living.
In pasture-type woodland, sheep and cattle would also be grazed. Pigs would be turned out
to eat acorns and beech mast in the autumn. Thus woodlands were of great economic
The species which inhabit Britain's woods are
therefore there in many cases because of past activities such as coppicing, rather than despite them. They are present because the
conditions which prevail in such woods fit their habitat requirements. Species such as
these have developed in tandem with man's influence over the centuries.
||Activities such as coppicing in
woodlands provided a vital, continuous local supply of wood products in the past. This had
the side effect of continually creating new glades in woodlands to replace those which had
grown over with time. This encouraged great biodiversity in the coppiced woodlands.
Wildflowers, grasses and brambles would progressively colonize each new glade as the tree
canopy was opened up. The animal species associated with these plants would also then
Removal of all human activity within
a woodland will usually result in the development of dark, dense woods. This will favour a
relatively small number of species which prefer this type of habitat. However, it will
also result in the elimination of all those species which either require higher light
levels, or which are dependent on other species with this requirement. If high
biodiversity and a wide range of woodland species is the goal, then management will be
necessary to create structural diversity within the woodland.
A woodland may also be managed in order to favour
the conservation of particular species, for example, the dormouse.
This will usually also have the side effect of promoting a whole range of other species
with similar habitat requirements.
Woodlands can be and often are, managed
simultaneously for commercial products, conservation and recreation. However, this
inevitably leads to conflicting needs and management has to be flexible enough to make
decisions based on whichever is the current priority.
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