Climate change poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife. Our changing climate means that many habitats become less suitable homes for our plants and wildlife. As part of The Climate Coalition, we are highlighting the changes we have already noticed on our reserves and the ways in which we are working to combat them.
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Wet woodland habitat, which is woodland that is saturated by standing water throughout the year, is one of a number of specialist habitats declining in range and condition due to lack of management and clearance or drainage by agriculture. It is an important habitat for a range of species from dragonflies and amphibians to birds and insects. With our remaining wet woodland fragmented and decreasing in size, climate change is likely to threaten this special habitat even further. Changes such as lower rainfall or higher evaporation from increased temperatures could result in some of our remaining wet woodland drying out and disappearing altogether.
Wet woodlands and boggy habitat provide a rich source of different niches, an important one being deadwood. This is important for a range of different species including rare invertebrates and bryophytes. Up to 40% of woodland species have an element of their life cycle associated with dead wood, this may be for feeding or using dead wood for nesting. At RSPB Broadwater Warren we have roughly 10 hectares of wet woodland and we have been carrying out several management techniques to improve the structure and water retention of the wet woodlands, as well as providing different elements of dead wood, such as standing, fallen and log piles in both shade and sun.
In areas where we have removed rhododendron, ponds have been created. We have been coppicing areas of the woodland (essentially mimicking traditional practices and natural ones by species like beaver) to create a better structure for species such as marsh tits and dormice. We have created more wet areas and retained water by using logs to slow the flow of stream. We have created dead wood in a number of ways, one practice to speed up the process is by selectively scarring and boring into some trees to create standing dead wood for hole nesting species such as the rare lesser spotted woodpecker, this species (the size of a sparrow) needs rotten wood to create its nest holes. Over time our management should provide a home for an array of species associated with wet woodlands.
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