But forest cover in the UK is one of the lowest in Europe and, as a country, we need to do more to increase it in order to meet the needs of our wildlife. If we don’t protect what we have left and work to create forests of the future, we will lose more than trees.
What is biodiversity and why is it important?
In a broad sense, biodiversity is the term used to describe all life on earth in all its diversity.
In every piece of forest, bog, grassland or any other habitat, there are more organisms – living beings, large and microscopic -that are present and interact than they could count.
The greater the distribution and number of these plant, fungal, microbial and animal species-or the more species-rich an area is-the healthier an area’s ecosystem is considered to be. This is because a more robust and complex habitat can provide the different conditions to meet the special needs of a variety of species.
Protection against disasters
In addition, when many species are present, it is less likely that pests, ailments, natural disasters and other threats will have drastic effects on a habitat or area.
Take the current loss we are facing due to the threat of extinction of ash trees: we will lose about 80% of ash trees in the UK, which will have devastating effects on the landscape and the species that depend on the tree. To mitigate some of the damage, you will need other tree species that are not affected by the ailment to replace the role of ash in the ecosystem.
Taking care of people
Biodiversity is also essential to our life. The species and the ecosystems that compose them allow all aspects of human life. We depend on natural services that provide healthy ecosystems for every breath of air and every sip of food. Our entire social and agricultural system depends on the biodiversity of pollinators, soil organisms, natural predators of plant pests and much more.
Trees and forest ecosystems, in particular, provide clean air, protect against overflows and store carbon, which is essential to prevent a catastrophic climate collapse. In the UK alone, the value of trees for overflow protection is estimated at billion.
Biodiversity also enriches our lives. We appreciate the opportunity to get closer to nature and there is more and more evidence that green spaces are good for our mental and body well-being.
What does biodiversity look like in Germany?
Biodiversity reaches its Peak around the Equator. We are quite far from that here in the UK, but our landscapes are still full of life. Rare and species-rich habitats are scattered across the landscape, from Caledonian pine forests, Atlantic rainforest and other old-growth forests to undisturbed bogs, bogs and grasslands.
In the UK live thousands of plants, animals and other living things, including:
2,400 species of flowering plants and ferns
more than 600 birds
1,800 species of mushrooms
7,000 species of flies.
And in the UK, new species of invertebrates are still being discovered and described, just like in equatorial rainforests around the world.
Specialized species are threatened
Some plants and animals can move between habitats and survive in different conditions. Hedgehogs and foxes, for example, can adapt well to urban environments.
But species like Dormouse depend on the unique environments found in old-growth forests. A number of beetles, such as the incredibly rare purple beetle, also need the dead wood of old trees to complete their life cycle.
This means that the type of forest habitat that we protect and create in the UK is important. Non-native forest plantations can store carbon, but they do not support as many native animal species.