ECOS 38 (5)

WOODLAND DEVELOPMENT

A Long Term Study of Lady Park Wood

George Peterken and Edward Mountford

CABI

2017

286 pages

ISBN: 978 1 78639 281 7

Paperback RRP: £35

Review by Simon Leadbeater

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ECOS 38 (5): Contents

Inheritors of the Earth by Chris Thomas

Review by Peter Shirley

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

Review by Andrew Blewett

Rewild by Nick Baker

Review by Peter Taylor

Re-enchanting the Forest by William Ayot

Review by Peter Taylor

Woodland Development by George Peterken and Edward Mountford

Review by Simon Leadbeater

The Red Squirrel by Neil McIntyre & Polly Pullar

Review by John Savory

Camera Trapping for Wildlife Research by Francesco Rovero and Fridolin Zimmermann (eds.)

Review by Rick Minter

One thought on “ECOS 38 (5): Book Review: Woodland Development

  1. Interesting thoughts about ‘rewilding’ and British woods; I’m not sure that simply leaving woodland to its own devices in UK conditions can be viewed as rewilding anyway if by rewilding we mean restoring complete trophic systems – so the relict and otherwise limited ancient or replanted woodland we have in this country lack the ‘wild’ impact of large mammals crashing around – no Aurochsen, no boar, too many or too few of the right or wrong deer species etc, not even beavers opening riverine habitat and creating beaver meadows… yet… much… I think that the point here is that rewilded woodland makes no sense in the absence of the entire faunal system, without even beginning to think about the subtle interactions with fire, flood, disease and wind throw that you refer to. The use of extensive woodland cattle-grazing makes sense in this context of course, regulated of course by human ‘predation’. There seems little doubt that forest glades and other open areas are a norm in pristine-like or near intact European forest ecosystems for all these reasons, and diverse niche small animals and flowering plants have co-evolved in these ever changing spaces along with the rest. Some insight into how this might be supposed to work is provided by the Vera woodland-pasture hypothesis, whatever its scientific strengths and weaknesses – a debate covered in ECOS some years ago. In reality we simply don’t have forest on the scale required to even contemplate what even near-pristine ‘wild’ might look like and anything else is by definition modified including our so-called rewilded woodlands. The problem is that in practice people have to recreate the wild disturbance to paradoxically facilitate the mix of habitats that pristine British woodland might have involved 6000 years ago, thereby encouraging the butterflies, wildflowers and range of bird life which people generally value and want to see. We have the paradox for these reasons that many of the richest wildlife sites in Europe are therefore those consistently managed, often for low intensity extraction of various sorts – as humans replace other keystone species in providing similar functions to missing trophic and mechanical disturbances which otherwise generate natural evolutionary pressures and emerging biodiversity. My feeling is that the notion of rewilding in Europe will realistically always be contingent on human decision-making to this extent.

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