Old UK woodlands vanishing fast

Ancient woodland in Britain is being felled at a rate even faster than the Amazon rain forest, according to a report from the Woodland Trust. The conservation charity says that almost half of all ancient UK woods have been lost in the past 80 years and more than 600 are threatened by new roads, electricity pylons, housing and airport expansion, the Guardian reported.


 "Ancient woodland, designated as over 400 years old in England, is the UK’s equivalent of rainforest. It is irreplaceable," said Ed Pomfret, the trust’s campaigns director. "It’s our most valuable space for wildlife, and home to rare and threatened species. Once these woods have gone, they will never come back. They are historical treasure troves." 

While many of the country’s ancient woods are designated for their scientific and conservation importance, nearly 85% — including five of the 12 largest woods in England — has no designation at all. Even for those that are protected, "loopholes in the planning system allow this protection to be overridden if a developer can prove an economic need," said Pomfret.  

Overall, there are only 1,193 square miles (308,000 hectares) of ancient woodland left to support indigenous British species such as the willow tit, marsh tit, barbastelle bat and dormouse, which all rely on it to survive. Few of the woods are larger than 50 acres (about 20 hectares) and only 14 of them are larger than 740 acres (300 hectares).  

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