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Plate 17 Nestboxes are beneficial where targeted at declining species in woodland lacking in natural nestholes.

Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

forested landscape with limited disturbance.

  • Consider developing a cluster or complex of ponds instead of just a single pond.

  • In coniferous forests create a buffer zone of rough grassland and native broadleaved trees and shrubs to minimise acidification of the water.

  • Create variable depths and hydro- period (length of time water is present during the year) and include shallow, sinuous edges.

  • Add organic matter such as leaf litter and sticks for hiding places and food for invertebrates. Retain rocks, roots, stumps and logs around the edge for hiding places for amphibians.

  • Add plants to newly created ponds to stabilise the soil, attract insect food and provide cover and an additional source of organic material.

  • Allow livestock some access to pond margins to create areas of poached ground and bare mud that are important for invertebrates such as craneflies.

  • Any overhanging vegetation should be on the northern margin and no more than 25% of the pond should be shaded.

  • Some woodlands may have existing drainage systems, these can be blocked by using brash, timber boarding, straw bales or specially developed metal barriers to allow flooding or re-wetting of selective areas.

Further reading

Forestry Commission (1994) The Management of seminatural woodlands: 8. wet woodlands. Forestry Commission Practice Guide. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.


In mature, semi-natural woodland with a good structure, nest sites for hole-nesting birds are usually plentiful so nestboxes have little benefit except where a particular niche may be lacking. However, in immature or poorly-structured woodland natural holes are scarce, and nestboxes would benefit several hole-nesting species.

Many of the western sessile oak woods were historically heavily managed leaving


Nigel Symes (The RSPB)

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