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Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

Although the total area of woodland is increasing in Wales at the rate of c.400 ha/yr, losses of ancient, semi-natural woodland occurred in the past. Furthermore, the species composition of many woods has changed, especially where they have been replanted with conifers. This process is now in reverse; the removal of conifers from ancient woodlands is currently ongoing though it is accepted that the full process of habitat restoration will take many years. It is current policy to restore many of these areas. Reducing fragmentation and creating improved habitat networks is key to the future of current woodland management in Wales.

Reduction in invertebrate populations

With the exception of butterflies, there is no long-term monitoring of invertebrate abundance within woodland and it is possible that large changes have gone undetected. In the last few decades, many specialist woodland butterflies have declined in Britain, in parallel with some of the bird declines. One of the key factors is thought to be changes in woodland structure driven by changes in woodland management, eg a reduction in coppice management. This, together with the associated loss of open, early successional habitats within woods, is likely to affect a

Table 7 Possible factors affecting the populations of priority woodland birds.

Species

Change in woodland structure

General

Change in grazing pressure

Woodland wetness

Reduction in deadwood

Agricultural intensity

Woodland fragmentation

Reduced invertebrate populations

Recreational pressure

Predation

Interspecific competition

Climatic factors

Migration and winter conditions

Honey buzzard Black grouse Woodcock Turtle dove Nightjar

Lesser spotted woodpecker

Woodlark Tree pipit Garden warbler Willow warbler Wood warbler Firecrest Spotted flycatcher Pied flycatcher Willow tit Marsh tit Lesser redpoll Bullfinch Hawfinch

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