At Tiny Eco Home Life, we just love learning facts and understanding more about our forests and woodlands.
That’s why we’ve put together a compact list of 50 wonderful woodland facts just for you!
Why are woodlands and forests important?
Woodlands and forests are the lungs of our planet. They breathe carbon dioxide in, which they use to power photosynthesis, and exhale oxygen out. Without them, life on Earth would certainly not be the same.
With many forests across the globe decimated over the last few decades, it’s more important than ever to take care of the woodlands we have, the major benefits they bring and encourage the expansion of forests once again.
Forests and woodlands are important for two main reasons:
- Combating climate change
- Improving biodiversity
1. Combating Climate Change
There are more and more studies taking place each year that reveal just how beneficial our forests and woodland truly are. As stated by an independent report – Combating Climate Change (a role for UK forests):
“Woodland provides a number of highly important buffering effects against climate change, and also enhances resilience within a number of ecosystems.”
Trees also rely on taking in carbon dioxide. For this reason, woodlands are naturally brilliant at soaking up huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Rewilding initiatives, such as those from Rewilding Britain, and tree planting drives are often held in order to reduce carbon emissions for our society and are becoming a common way for companies to offset their emissions. For example, this website uses Ecologi to offset our emissions.
2. Improving Biodiversity
In natural woodland environments, there’s usually a varying mix of tree species. This is great as different tree types and different age trees are beneficial to a variety of other animals and plants. For example, as trees grow older and larger and woodlands become denser, less light falls on the floor, which in turn affects what types of plants will thrive.
The greater the variety of trees in a woodland, the better it is for biodiversity.
It’s for this reason why human planted forests of just one tree species, to produce materials like timber, rubber and coffee, won’t have a massively positive impact on biodiversity. It’s unnatural for large concentrations of the same aged species i.e. mono-cultures to grow together.
Variety above ground also helps biodiversity and soil health underground. And we absolutely need high quality soil for the world and it’s life to thrive.
50 Wonderful Woodland and Forest Facts
- Woodlands are defined as small forests with a lower total density of trees.
- Just 2% of the UK’s landmass is covered in ancient woodland.
- Trees in forests and woodlands can communicate with each other via an intricate underground fungal network, known as the Wood Wide Web.
- The UK’s woods are home to almost half of all bluebells in the entire world.
- Woodlands are often transition zones between grasslands, forests and deserts.
- Woods in the UK are structured into four main layers: From the top going down you have the canopy, understory, shrub layer and the ground layer.
- Galloway Forest in Scotland is the UK’s largest forest at 297 square miles.
- The Woodland Trust owns and takes care of over 1,000 woods and forests across the UK (they are all completely free to visit!)
- Forests cover around 4 billion hectares or 30 percent of Earth’s land surface.
- Only 13% of the United Kingdom is covered in woods and forests.
- Not all rainforests are tropical – we actually have rainforests in the UK known as temperate rainforests.
- In 2017, a new contemporary Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched for the UK.
- Just over two thirds (69%) of respondents to the UK Public Opinion of Forestry Survey 2021 had visited forests or woodlands in the last few years. Of those, 36% reported an increase in the number of visits in the last 12 months.
- Woodlands grade into shrub land in drier conditions or in the early stages of plant succession.
- Forests store massive amounts of carbon and afford other important ecosystem services upon which life on Earth depends.
- Humankind is responsible for the majority of forest loss on Earth.
- The biggest drivers of deforestation are livestock and agriculture production as well as timber logging and forest fires.
- China and Rwanda, are currently rewilding forests to restore the ecosystem’s natural functions.
- The world continues to lose huge areas of forest each year – over 26 million hectares of forest was destroyed across ithe world in 2019.
- Forests are fortunately recovering in some countries, in light of a variety of rewilding and re-planting initiatives.
- Research has proven that some of the planet’s best protected forests are those that are in fact inhabited by indigenous peoples.
- The biggest causes of deforestation in the tropics is agriculture, including cattle ranching, palm oil production, road construction and logging.
- One-eighth of the planet’s forests are managed for biodiversity conservation.
- Humans are worsening outbreaks of fire via forest degradation and intentional fire-setting, which exacerbates climate change in places where forests don’t typically burn, like the Amazon.
- According to the UN, about 13% of the planet’s forests, or 5.24 million sq km, are managed primarily for biodiversity conservation.
- Injured patients with a view of greenery and wildlife from their windows have been shown to recover faster than those without.
- The term ancient woodland is used in British nature conservation to refer to any wooded land that has existed since 1600, and often for thousands of years, since the last Ice Age.
- 13,300 hectares of new woodland were created in the UK in 2020-21.
- The taiga forest, or boreal forest, is the world’s largest land biome.
- The taiga forest stretches across the high northern latitudes and contains coniferous tree species, including pines, spruces and larches.
- Woodlands that border desert ecosystems are sometimes called xeric woodlands (xeric means dry).
- The succulent woodlands on the island of Madagascar, located off the southeast coast of Africa, are xeric woodlands.
- Woodlands that lead to grasslands are often lower in tree density.
- Ethiopian woodlands are extremely populated (highly dense) and contain some of the best agricultural land in the country.
- Wood products imported into the UK in 2020 were valued at £7.5 billion and included 7.2 million cubic metres of sawnwood, 3.3 million cubic metres of wood-based panels, 9.1 million tonnes of wood pellets, and 4.4 million tonnes of paper.
- The entirety of native woodland located within Great Britain is estimated to be around 1.51 million hectares (making up 49% of all woodland in Great Britain).
- Woodland is a low-density forest with plenty of sunlight and limited shade.
- Spending time in woods and forests, or even just around trees, is proven to boost our health and wellbeing
- Woodlands have an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses.
- Higher densities and areas of trees, with largely closed canopy, and nearly continuous shade are often called forests.
- It is estimated that in the year 1086, around 15% of Britain’s landmass was covered in forest and woodland.
- Although the UK’s tree population is now heading in the right direction, back to the 15% level last seen a thousand years ago, we’re still lagging far behind the European average of 37% coverage.
- In early 2015, after heavy winter storms, a prehistoric forest of trees was discovered on the seabed off the Norfolk coast. Oak trees with branches measuring up to 8 meters are believed to be the remnants of a huge forest that existed some 10,000 years ago.
- Plants and trees are effectively the lungs of the earth, capturing carbon and replenishing the Earth’s oxygen supply.
- In 1919, the Forestry Commission was established and tasked with the job of replenishing depleted woodlands and forests.
- Initiatives to curb illegal logging, set up huge wildlife reserves and parks, and actively plant more trees are becoming more popular across the globe.
- Science is fast proving that the creation and disappearance of huge forests throughout history are also part of the Earth’s natural life cycle.
- Woodland in Australia is officially categorised as an area that has between 10 and 30% of tree cover – anything more than that is termed a forest.
- Some of the giant sequoia and bristlecone pine trees in the Californian woods have been growing for over 4,000 years. In fact, the oldest tree in the world is thought to be a bristlecone pine tree nicknamed Methuselah – approximately 4,852 years old.
- Woodlands are said to be the places where folk tales, myths, and legends originated in Europe. These enchanted spaces inspired stories like Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Beauty and the Beast.
There you have it, our 50 wonderful woodland facts! As you can see, the list could easily go on and on (and it does…).
It’s great to know that there are many more like minded people out there, who care about living sustainably and protecting our natural world. Together we can certainly make a difference, and awareness is always going to be the first step.
The definition of a woodland
“A woodland can be defined as a small forest with a lower density of trees; which form open habitats with ample sunlight and reduced shade”
Although woodland is often referred to as a ‘small forest’, the greatest difference between the two is found in the density of trees, alongside the size of the area that they each cover.
Generally speaking, forests cover larger land masses, with larger populations of trees. Whereas woodland has a lower volume of trees set within a smaller land mass.
When there is a lower volume of trees, the creation of open habitats with more sunlight and less shade can influence the growth of animal and plant life on the woodland floor.
The more light that reaches the ground affects the type of plant life that can grow in woodlands. Some common species can include the likes of mosses, ferns, grasses, lichens, shrubs, and flowering herbs.
If you liked that, here are a few more blogs you might like…