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Wood pasture and parkland

Wood pasture and parkland are areas that have historically been managed by grazing. They tend to have large trees, many of which are veteran or ancient.

Cultural value

Wood pasture and parkland is important historically and culturally. They may derive from medieval hunting forests, or from wooded commons. Others are designed landscapes, often associated with big estates dating from the 16th century.

Trees in wood pasture and parkland were often pollarded. This is an ancient form of management where trees are grown within grazed pastures. The crown was regularly cut at around eight feet high, above the browsing height of the stock below. This allowed the land to be used for both grazing and to provide useful material from the trees. Trees managed in this way can live to a great age.

Wildlife refuge

Often wood pasture sites are made up of a mosaic of habitats. These include grassland, heathland, scrub and woodland. Each of these habitats have an important wildlife value, providing a wide range of ecological niches.

Ancient and veteran trees support rare and often threatened species of fungi and invertebrates. They are full of nooks and crannies, holes and dead and rotting wood. They offer a wide range of homes for species with very restricted distributions.

The UK has internationally important concentrations of ancient trees. Many of these are in wood pasture and parkland settings. It is important that they are protected and appropriately managed, and that new trees are planted to provide the ancients of the future.