Why should we protect them?
Ancient woodland, usually defined as land that has been continually wooded since at least 1600AD, is the jewel in our woodland crown. They are our richest sites for wildlife and they support a huge range of wildlife (including more threatened species than any other UK habitat). Ancient woods are also some of our prettiest woodlands, some have carpets of bluebells, wood anemones and celandines in spring.
Sadly, nearly 50 per cent of the ancient woodland that survived until the 1930s has since been lost or damaged by agriculture, development or planting by non-native conifers.
According to the UK's Biodiversity Action Plan, in the last 100 years, 46 broadleaf woodland species have become extinct in the UK.
In addition, most of ancient woodland we have left is fragmented, eight out of 10 ancient woods are less than 20 hectares (50 acres) in size and nearly 50 per cent of ancient woods are less than 5 hectares (13 acres). In addition, 85 per cent of the ancient woodland that remains has no legal designation.
Unless urgent action is taken now to protect what little we have left, we risk loosing what's left of our precious ancient woodland.