Trees & Habitats
There are many different habitats and landscapes of which trees belong and are an intrinsic part. At TreeLife we are interested in creating, restoring and educating about all of them! Whether they are places just for wildlife and biodiversity, or they are landscapes for human enjoyment or farming, trees play many varied and vital roles.
Single Field Trees
Parklands are a historic, cultural feature of the British landscape, with mature single trees dotted through grassland. But this landscape can be rapidly and suddenly lost without replanting. Trees originally planted hundreds of years ago may come to the end of their lives within a few decades of each other. Leaving a treeless field.
Single field trees provide shelter for livestock from extreme weather conditions. In the heat of the midsummer sun, heavy rains and snow, sheep and cattle will be seen to shelter under these majestic trees.
Mature tree roots go deep into the subsoils and bring nutrients from those depths to the surface via their leaf drop. The pastures reaps the benefit of these added nutrients as they enriching the soils and therefore grassland quality.
Single field trees when they reach maturity are majestic beings which provide a habitat for an incredible diversity of wildlife, including nesting sites for birds such as owls, blue tits, woodpeckers and many more. (picture- Large oak near Geltsdale). Trees also foster the fungal life of an ecosystem, trees and fungi being intrinsically linked. The fungi help feed the tree and the tree provides a home for fungi to fruit. These beneficial effect of fungal networks on soil health in-turn increases the health and productivity of the grasslands.
In certain parts of Cumbria, pollarded Ash in particular are an historic part of the farmed landscape. These trees were cut for animal feed, charcoal and firewood. The leaves were often made into hay as a winter feed stock. Sadly this practice is now redundant, but there are still lots of examples of the beautiful old pollards maintained for conservation purposes. The Borrowdale valley in the North Lakes in a good place to find these wonderful old beings. These old trees like the one below are usually hollow, providing lovely habitats for insects, animals and birds.
Death is Life, about sums it up. Life in an ecosystem is a function of death. When you get into it, it really is very difficult to draw the lines between life and death. Dead wood is food for fungi and insects, the fungi creates health in the soil and takes nutrients to living trees, insects are the base of the food chain for birds and mammals.
Below is a dead birch tree in Borrowdale with the birch polipore fungi growing on it.