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The landscape ecological impact of afforestation on the British uplands and some initiatives to restore native woodland cover

Bunce, Robert G.H.; Wood, Claire M.; Smart, Simon M.; Oakley, Rachel; Browning, Gareth; Daniels, Mike J.; Ashmole, Philip; Cresswell, John; Holl, Kate. 2014 The landscape ecological impact of afforestation on the British uplands and some initiatives to restore native woodland cover. Journal of Landscape Ecology, 7 (2). 5-24. 10.2478/jlecol-2014-0013

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Abstract/Summary

The majority of forest cover in the British Uplands had been lost by the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, because of felling followed by overgrazing by sheep and deer. The situation remained unchanged until a government policy of afforestation, mainly by exotic conifers, after the First World War up to the present day. This paper analyses the distribution of these predominantly coniferous plantations, and shows how they occupy specific parts of upland landscapes in different zones throughout Britain. Whilst some landscapes are dominated by these new forests, elsewhere the blocks of trees are more localised. Although these forests virtually eliminate native ground vegetation, except in rides and unplanted land, the major negative impacts are at the landscape level. For example, drainage systems are altered and ancient cultural landscape patterns are destroyed. These impacts are summarised and possible ways of amelioration are discussed. By contrast, in recent years, a series of projects have been set up to restore native forest cover, as opposed to the extensive plantations of exotic species. Accordingly, the paper then provides three examples of such initiatives designed to restore native forests to otherwise bare landscapes, as well as setting them into a policy context. Whilst such projects cover a limited proportion of the British Uplands they nevertheless restore forest to landscapes at a local level.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.2478/jlecol-2014-0013
CEH Sections: CEH fellows
Parr
ISSN: 1805-4196
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - Official URL link provides full text
Additional Keywords: plantation trends, exotic conifers, landscape pattern, biodiversity loss, native woodland restoration
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Nov 2014 16:27 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/504970

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