Invertebrate Tales

Developing Biodiversity in Planted Woodlands 

Funded by Patsy Wood Trust, this two year project (2013-2015) was a collaboration between Earth Trust, University of Oxford and Dorset County Council 

Project context

Much tree planting in the UK consists of closely spaced Sitka Spruce plantation, a non-native conifer with little biodiversity and ecological benefits. In contrast planted broadleaf woodlands, with appropriate management, can not only provide sustainable timber but also deliver significant biodiversity benefits. Planting trees offers win-win-win solutions for the UK by absorbing and retaining carbon emissions, conserving biodiversity and reducing our £5bn annual timber imports, while providing jobs, public access and health benefits.

We do not currently have proven methods of ensuring the potential benefits of planted trees and associated management practices for joint conservation and timber production. Without these, we have already seen significant areas of trees planted without the management required to achieve the expected production, carbon sequestration and conservation benefits.

Project aims

  • To quantify the biodiversity and production benefits associated with planted broadleaf woodlands managed for production.
  • To build skills and knowledge in species identification and woodland management across a range of ages and backgrounds.
  • To involve and excite people of all ages and backgrounds in understanding the processes involved in field research related to woodland production and invertebrate biodiversity.
  • To use the information collected to influence changes in policy and funding, which will in time lead to improvements in the quality (from management, production and biodiversity perspectives) of planted broadleaf woodland in the UK.

Invertebrate Tales

The two year project carried out research into invertebrate species (including spiders and beetles) found in Paradise Wood, a planted woodland managed for timber production, to:

  1. Assess how planted production woodlands can increase invertebrate biodiversity (using a range of measures) compared to the arable farmland they often replace.
  2. Explore how management to favour invertebrate biodiversity affects tree productivity and associated sequestration benefits.
  3. Demonstrate that invertebrate biodiversity (using a range of measures) is dependent on management practices rather than age or species.

Volunteers, students and the general public contributed significantly to the project, through training in invertebrate surveying and identification. This built knowledge, skills and experience for the future; and inspired people with a greater interest in the natural world and particularly the issues facing the UK’s woodlands today.

Invertebrate sampling in Paradise Wood

Find out more about the Invertebrate Tales surveys undertaken in Paradise Wood in 2013 by exploring the following pages: Invertebrate Tales 2013 Surveys