Wood pasture is an important habitat, positively teeming with life and vital to preserve. Characterised by big old trees growing in open pasture-land, wood pastures are often derived from medieval hunting forests and old wooded commons. The splendid trees they often contain are some of the oldest living things in our country, providing a direct link with bygone landscapes and homes to many rare and threatened species such as the lesser spotted woodpecker, the pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly and the violet click beetle.
Historically, wood pasture hasn’t been regarded as a distinct habitat, often mistaken for degraded woodland, leaving it overlooked and understudied. However, despite its value wildlife, we know little about how much is left or what condition it’s in.
A provisional record exists, created by Natural England using mainly historical maps and aerial photography. But we don’t know whether all these sites remain intact and what condition are they in. We plan to find out.
So we’ve devised a simple survey technique to assess the condition of wood pasture and parlkand sites.
A walk in the park
This year we’re trialling the survey in Suffolk. If you would like to help volunteer sites near you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.