Ancient woodland area the size of Birmingham threatened

Research by the Woodland Trust has revealed that the total area of ancient woodland threatened by destruction or degradation over the last decade has covered a total of 100 square miles (26,000 hectares) – equivalent to the size of Birmingham!

In the last 10 years we have discovered over 800 woods threatened by all forms of development from roads, housing and airports to power lines, gas pipes and golf courses. Right now we are dealing with over 400 cases of woods under threat from development. This level of destruction or degradation is extremely worrying because ancient woodland is our richest habitat for wildlife and completely irreplaceable. Ancient woods cover only 2.4% of the country and are the UK’s equivalent of the rainforest.

You would think a habitat so special, so important would be protected and theoretically ancient woods are protected in national planning policies. The problem is local councils are allowed to ignore national policy and develop an ancient wood if they believe social and economic benefits of that development outweigh the benefits of keeping the woodland. It stands to reason that if a council wants a development to go ahead they will be able to “find” some economic or social reason why the development is important. This means priceless ancient woods are lost to short term economic gains.

Often you hear of plans to “compensate” for the loss of ancient woodland by planting new woods but this simply can’t be done – centuries of undisturbed soils and seedbanks are protected in these habitats and planting new trees just can not make up for their loss.

The Woodland Trust needs everyone to act as our eyes and ears on the ground – find out where you local ancient woodland is and keep an eye out for any signs of development threats to the wood – if you hear of any let us know by visiting and get out there and organise a local campaign against the plans. We know that if you are early enough you can stop this destruction.


About Ed Pomfret

Head of campaigns at the Woodland Trust. I run our campaigning work on issues such as climate change, aviation, planning reform and woods under threat.
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7 Responses to Ancient woodland area the size of Birmingham threatened

  1. Senua says:

    Too much CO2 is not a good thing.
    Yes the planet does need some but when there has been too much CO2 in the atmosphere in the past(caused by volcanos)it has caused a lot of harm.
    It’s all about balance.
    During the Permian there was only about 16% Oxygen in the atmosphere, this was because plant life was affected by the continents all being clumped together so producing an almost continent wild desert making it difficult for plant life to flourish. This plus volcanic activity pumping vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere caused one of the worst mass extinction in the history of our planet.
    I’m not against technology but it should be used responsibly and people should certainly be questioning what governments are doing about climate change.

  2. Moonwind says:

    What planet is “CLOTHCAP” living on ???
    The increased Carbon Dioxide levels are dangerously high by makind’s continuous burning of the Earth’s fossil fuels. We are causing Global Warming and everyone needs to REDUCE the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere !!
    Every tree that is cut down endangers our children’s & our grandchildren’s future.
    Our precious trees are the LUNGS OF THE PLANET as it is THEY that give off OXYGEN as they photosynthesise.
    WAKE UP CLOTHCAP and listen to the experts

  3. Peter Green says:

    RE:-= Two Mile Coppice – owned by the Woodland Trust – Weymouth

    As of the 19th December 2008 the Woodland Trust still own the land that the road is being built on, but have waived their 14 days notice period and told Dorset County Council that
    it is ok to get on with cutting down the Ancient woodland – basically they
    have thrown in the towel without even standing up to argue or delay the
    destruction on their land. The fact that the Woodland Trust still own the land
    was recordered in the Court case of the 18th december 2008 of Dorset
    County Council ‘ v ‘ Persons Unknown in Weymouth County Court. Her
    Majesty’s Land Registry in Plymouth also confirmed it.

    The people of Weymouth brought Two Mile Copse through public
    subscription. Local people dug deeply into their pockets and put their money
    into conserving the land for perpeturity, for us and all future generations.

    Dorset County Council have so far not given one penny in compensation,
    either to the Woodland Trust, nor local people who raised the public money
    to preserve the wood in the first place.

    Shame on the Woodland Trust for chickening out of flighting all the way to save the woods and letting the County Council issue eviction proceedings against the protestors.

    The woodland trust STILL OWN THE WOODS – you can legally stop this destruction on your land at any time, up until when the Compensation money is paid and the deeds are registered at the Land Registry.

    Friends are already writing in to the Woodland Trust to resign and I recommend that more do likewise.

    • Ed Pomfret says:

      Hi Peter I’ve posted this on the post about Two Mile Coppice too but just to clarify what happened, we have lost a long fight to stop both this road and at the last we failed to stop the compulsory purchase order. The compulsory purchase process enables them to take possession of the land and commence work before compensation negotiations are finalised. This is what happened – we raised the issue when it seemed that the correct processes hadn’t been followed. But don’t doubt that the Woodland Trust are fully committed to protecting ancient woodland – we have been fighting this case for years and have been one of the main organisations fighting this unecessary road all the way. Sadly we have now reached the end of the line on this and we are as dissapointed as anybody. I’m sorry you feel we’ve let you down in some way, but we have fought this case all the way.
      Ed Pomfret
      Head of campaigns

  4. We are trying to save an ancient woodland in the heart of Bristol.

    Grove Wood is just three miles from the city centre and is an integral part of the Frome Valley Wildlife corridor linking the countryside with the city.

    The wood was bought by a private landowner last year and since then he has destroyed a block of trees, bulldozed land and generally disrespected the character of a charming ancient woodland.

    After a seven month campaign the City Council has decided to place a blanket Tree Preservation Order on the wood which should stop any further damage, but it would not stop him from fencing the wood off or undertaking small scale ‘management’.

    Who is this landowner? A property developer of course.

    Steve Micklewright
    Snuff Mills Action Group

  5. Clothcap says:

    No doubt there are times when destruction is unavoidabe but are such old trees transplantable?

    Co2 is of great benefit to trees and the recent recovery of co2 levels has helped forest recovery in other parts of the world such as the magnificent tropical rainforests. What is the woodland trust doing to accelerate co2 emissions?

    Plant a tree not just because it it is necessary for other reasons, they are the true climate controllers. Do what you can to add co2 to the air, it is plant food!

    Stop the road for articulated lorries into Bute Park, one of the largest city centre parks in the UK, providing the setting for Cardiff Castle, and listed on the Cadw/ICOMOS Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales as grade I. The road is a condition of a grant by the Destroy Heritage Lottery Fund

    The Welsh Heritage Lottery Fund view is that “a new bridge over the docks feeder to provide access into the park from North Road is as an essential element of the Bute Park Restoration Project” and they make the road a condition for a grant for the Bute Park Restoration Project.

    Bute Park is one of the largest city centre parks in the UK, providing the setting for Cardiff Castle, and listed on the Cadw/ICOMOS Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales as grade I.

    We ask the Heritage Lottery fund/Cardiff council to keep articulated lorries out of the park all together. The nursery can be moved and large events held elsewhere. We believe Cardiff’s heritage isn’t safe with the Heritage Lottery Fund. We ask that they reconsider their position and oppose and halt the bridge and road being built through this tranquil area of the park with memorial trees.

    A number of memorial trees will require CROWN management! Besides trees already felled and more to go, about 43 trees in all are to be pruned …chopped back to let articulated lorries pass in what was a tranquil part of the park designated for memorial trees!!! 43 lollipop trees!!! This and the bridge/road and articulated lories will totally destroy the integrity of the park.
    See the damage done already before planning permission and please sign our petition

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