Trees in the landscape

As we move ever closer to spring and the daylight lasts longer now is a great time to get out and look at the landscape before it becomes clothed in exuberant new foliage and flowers and this is especially true with trees.

A couple of walks recently have allowed me to enjoy the large, old trees in my local landscape enabling me to see details that will be obscured by leaves in the next couple of months. I love seeing ‘veteran’ trees with all their broken branches, scars and rot holes! Dead wood whether standing or on the ground provides a range of habitats for a number of species from fungi to insects to plants to birds and mammals.

Old trees and dead wood are a crucial part of a number of ecosystems and where these habitat elements are absent the suite of species associated with the particular habitat e.g. deciduous woodland are significantly reduced. Within habitats and the wider landscape we need a range of ages of trees from seedlings through to saplings then young, mature, old and veteran to provide the full cycle of species and interactions, if any one component is missing then the ecosystem becomes skewed and species will be lost.

Next time you are out and about take a closer look at those older trees – the untidy ones, the broken ones, those that people want to tidy up and/or see as great firewood – they are a crucial part of the whole and perhaps reflect on this just as we would be poorer without our elders in our society then so is the landscape if we don’t have a good range of veteran trees.

Veteran Ash Tree

Veteran Ash Tree

Tree Sparrow - a species associated with large, old trees.

Tree Sparrow – a species associated with large, old trees.

Storm damaged oak tree, natural processes, natural pollarding.

Storm damaged oak tree, natural processes, natural pollarding.

Detail of the oak tree showing a range of habitat niches.

Detail of the oak tree showing a range of habitat niches.