Global tree planting initiatives may benefit biodiversity depending on woodland type, but ecological effects must be understood when woodland replaces open habitats supporting characteristic wildlife. In the UK's temperate uplands, large-scale reforestation is replacing long-established open ‘moorland’ (heath, bog and grassland) supporting breeding bird communities of conservation importance. We quantified breeding bird species richness and abundance in 8–24 year-old native woodland plantations in Scotland and adjacent moorland and used bird densities to predict potential future abundance changes in woodland and moorland avian indicator species from recent national-level woodland creation policies. Bird species richness at point counts increased with increasing woodland cover, height and age and declined with increasing elevation. Differing abundances of bird species of conservation concern between woodland and moorland were related to their associations with vegetation measures, especially woodland cover and tree species composition. The creation of 54.9 km2 of native woodland in Scotland across 2017 and 2018 predicts reduced Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (moorland indicator) abundance of 6214 individuals or 0.13% of current UK population, and increased Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus (indicator of young woodland) abundance of 6040 individuals or 0.13% of current UK population. Native woodland plantations comprised c34% of new woodland creation and the projections should be extended to other woodland types in particular non-native commercial conifer forestry. Native reforestation of open ground offers net gains in bird species richness but could disbenefit open-ground birds including those of conservation concern. Where retention of open-ground species is desired, landscape-scale reforestation should consider both woodland and open-ground wildlife.

Benefits and costs of native reforestation for breeding songbirds in temperate uplands

Scridel D.
Writing – Review & Editing
2020-01-01

Abstract

Global tree planting initiatives may benefit biodiversity depending on woodland type, but ecological effects must be understood when woodland replaces open habitats supporting characteristic wildlife. In the UK's temperate uplands, large-scale reforestation is replacing long-established open ‘moorland’ (heath, bog and grassland) supporting breeding bird communities of conservation importance. We quantified breeding bird species richness and abundance in 8–24 year-old native woodland plantations in Scotland and adjacent moorland and used bird densities to predict potential future abundance changes in woodland and moorland avian indicator species from recent national-level woodland creation policies. Bird species richness at point counts increased with increasing woodland cover, height and age and declined with increasing elevation. Differing abundances of bird species of conservation concern between woodland and moorland were related to their associations with vegetation measures, especially woodland cover and tree species composition. The creation of 54.9 km2 of native woodland in Scotland across 2017 and 2018 predicts reduced Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (moorland indicator) abundance of 6214 individuals or 0.13% of current UK population, and increased Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus (indicator of young woodland) abundance of 6040 individuals or 0.13% of current UK population. Native woodland plantations comprised c34% of new woodland creation and the projections should be extended to other woodland types in particular non-native commercial conifer forestry. Native reforestation of open ground offers net gains in bird species richness but could disbenefit open-ground birds including those of conservation concern. Where retention of open-ground species is desired, landscape-scale reforestation should consider both woodland and open-ground wildlife.
2020
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https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719320671
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3063158
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