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Tiny woodlands more important than previously thought

By 2nd December 2019 No Comments

Small woodlands in farmland have more benefits for humans per area compared to large forests according to a new study by researchers at the University of Picardie, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

woodland

Small woodland. Credit: Pieter De Frenne

The reason why these tiny woodlands may provide us with more services is because they naturally have more edges exposed to the influence of the surrounding environment.

“For example, there is more food supply for roe deer, such as blueberries and seedlings of birch and oak, because edges receive more sunlight and nutrients from the surrounding farmlands. This in turn, is predicted to attract more roe deer that can be hunted by humans,” says study team member Alicia Valdés.

These tiny forests can also store more carbon per area in the topsoil layer than older big woodlands, because they have an increased soil biological activity, which makes them faster at absorbing organic matter. Potentially these can act as better carbon sinks and help counterbalance the effects of global warming.

Another benefit of the tiny forests is that they represent a lower risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. This is because fewer tick larvae can survive in the dry and hot environments characterizing woodland edges.

Read the full press release on the British Ecological Society website.

Read the research paperValdés, ALenoir, JDe Frenne, P, et al. High ecosystem service delivery potential of small woodlands in agricultural landscapes. J Appl Ecol.