Woodland types in Wales
Priority bird species associated with wood- pasture and parkland include hawfinch, lesser spotted woodpecker and marsh tit.
generally had a negative impact on the ecology of ancient woodlands, although remnants of historic and ecological features remain amongst the plantation, providing vital links to the original woodland.
Within the economic cycle of commercial forests, extensive areas of pre-thicket stage, thicket stage and mature stands are present. Large forest areas are also developing permanent habitats, eg riparian woodland and broadleaf scrub offering a range of niches for birds, including some species that are very scarce in Wales.
Approximately two-thirds of the Welsh woodland area is made up of conifers, principally spruce, pine and larch (Table 5), usually situated in the uplands, and 95% of the commercial timber produced in Wales comes from these plantations (FC 2008).
Although most conifers were established in the last 50–60 years and planted on open terrain, eg upland grassland or heather moorland, some were planted on ancient woodland sites (Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites – PAWS). This practice
Priority bird species of conifer and mixed woodlands include honey buzzard, black grouse, turtle dove, nightjar, woodlark, tree pipit, willow warbler, lesser redpoll and bullfinch.
Priority species include hawfinch and firecrest.
Table 5 Composition of conifer woodland in Wales.
A significant proportion of Welsh woodland is mixed woodland, consisting of both broadleaves and conifers, and as such can show any, or a combination, of the characteristics discussed above. Due to their diversity, mixed woodlands can be particularly important for birds, potentially supporting any of the species considered here depending on the habitat structure and species composition.
Woodland, where allowed to, will naturally colonise open ground. The type of woodland that develops is determined by the environmental conditions, eg wet ground will be colonised by birch, alder and willow scrub, developing into carr and wet woodland. Free-draining acidic ground will be colonised by birch, into which oak can then colonise. Mixed scrub dominated by hawthorn and blackthorn develops on neutral soils, into which oak and ash can develop.
Figure 9 Distribution of 1-km squares with conifer plantation.
Priority species include lesser redpoll, willow warbler, willow tit and black grouse.