These rich and diverse habitats are home to thousands of species.
Vital for carbon storage, woodlands also help reduce flood damage. But the UK is one of the most tree-depleted countries in Europe and we urgently need to restore and protect what’s left.
There are few places more peaceful and alive than the heart of a native woodland. In our wild isles you’ll find many kinds from breath-taking bluebell woods to rare temperate rainforests, home to lichens found nowhere else on Earth, and the great Caledonian pinewood, a stronghold for capercaillies, ospreys and red squirrels.
Our woodland habitats capture and store carbon and are one of our essential defences in the battle against the climate emergency. They can also help protect against flooding, stabilise the soil, help plant pollination, and can even absorb pollution by cleaning the air that we breathe.
Yet, our native woodlands have now almost vanished. Only 13% of the UK is covered by woodland – one of the lowest figures in Europe – and half of this is non-native plantations, which aren’t as beneficial for wildlife. Sadly, just 2.5% of our wild isles is precious ancient woodland.
Many of our trees have been cleared for farmland and houses. We’ve replaced much of the native woodland with fast-growing non-native trees as a resource for burning and building. The remaining isolated fragments of woodland are at risk from development, invasive species (like grey squirrels and rhododendrons), diseases and the changing climate.
We need to protect our remaining woodlands, making these special places even better for wildlife. And we need to regenerate them by planting the right trees in the right places so that our woodlands of the future can help us fight climate change and help our rapidly declining woodland wildlife recover too.
Our native woodlands are living links to our past, but they’re also a crucial part of our present, and without them, we won’t have a future. If we all work together – governments, landowners, organisations and individuals – we can still bring our woodlands back to life.
million tonnes of carbon stored in UK woodlands
of native woodlands in good condition for nature
of UK's ancient woods currently under threat
A sanctuary for thousands of species, woodlands are abundant and diverse habitats.
Our nature is being pushed to the brink by the changing climate, pollution, mismanagement and more. Only by knowing the threats can we work to protect our wild isles.
Our wildlife is amazing - but it’s in crisis. WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust are working together to bring nature back from the brink. We need everyone. Find out how you can go wild once a week and together we can save our wild isles.