Place, Patterns, Provenance & People: dynamic woodland biomes

Kathryn Nelson, Roy Nelson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Forests once covered much of northern Europe but with the demand for resources from the growing human population these ancient forests have fragmented. In Northern Ireland, the ancient forest has been lost and the land is now dominated by grass species. There now only remains a few remnants of forest cover (6%) with small pockets of semi-natural broadleaf woodland (1%). Although there has been some planting of woodlands these are often isolated within the landscape. Thirty of these young woodlands were studied and the colonisation patterns of 13 woodland ground flora species were analysed. We then documented their colonisation using a novel visual fingerprint method. We also determined the need to change peoples’ attitudes towards the creation of fully functional woodland biomes using seed of local provenance. This transdisciplinary approach details the colonisation of herbaceous ground flora and shows that the succession from grassland into woodland only begins with the planting of trees. We argue that there is a reduction in biodiversity through the loss of grassland species and poor colonisation by woodland ground flora. This has implications for landowners, farmers, and the public. These individuals and communities may be unaware that the establishment of true woodland biomes are highly dependent on existing ground flora. Local features in the environment such as hedges, mature woods and riparian zones can be a rich source of biodiversity and are therefore vital when hoping to establish a dynamic and complex woodland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvolving the Forest
EditorsSimon Lloyd, Richard Povall, Jeremy Ralph
Place of PublicationKingsbridge, Devon, England books
Number of pages58
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-0-9957196-3-7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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