One of the most heartening aspects of our work is seeing and hearing about the benefits our partners' woodlands have for local wildlife. Whether it's a landowner telling us how many woodcock they found sheltering in their new birchwood or discovering bird nests for ourselves when out verifying (see the photo below!), it is all immensely gratifying.
Yet, sadly, some of the UK's most-imperiled wildlife are species that require habitats filled with trees and scrub. Scottish Wildcats, Capercaillie, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Willow Tits are all examples of woodland specialists in decline but the problems are, unfortunately, more systemic. The 2019 State of Nature Report concluded that the abundance of breeding woodland birds in the UK has fallen by 25% since 1970.
The habitat our new woodlands will provide is therefore a vital ecosystem service, one that is being delivered in addition to carbon capture.
One landowner we have worked closely with, to achieve numerous woodland creation projects, is Lowther Estate. Nestled in the Lake District, their land is at the heart of Cumbria's red squirrel stronghold. Thanks to the estate's commitment to forestry, and especially the use of sensitive silvicultural management practices such as 'Continuous Cover Forestry', these charismatic rodents are thriving.
We hope that as our new woodlands at Lowther mature, they will further strengthen the red squirrel's foothold in this beautiful corner of Northern England.
For more information, have a read of this excellent blog post, from the UK Squirrel Accord.