A recent survey – the first to be carried out since 1987 – has discovered 110 new ancient woodlands on the Island. Ancient woodland is defined as dating to 1600AD or before and is an irreplaceable resource.
The research, carried out on behalf of the Isle of Wight Biodiversity Partnership, used detailed maps, surveys and estate records that were not all available in 1987.
Plants and animals also surveyed
Types of plants and animals in the woodlands were also closely analysed. This is because a key indicator if woodland is ancient is the type of plants and animals that live there as these are established over many centuries and are not simply replaced should new trees be planted.
Nearly 250 extra hectares of ancient woodland
Matthew Chatfield, Isle of Wight Council parks and countryside manager and chairman of the Isle of Wight Biodiversity Partnership, was involved in the survey. He said:
“The survey was carried out over the last year and has revealed nearly 250 extra hectares (over 600 acres) of ancient woodland.
“Much of this was because of the new resources and techniques available.”
Adding to the Island’s unique character
Councillor Luisa Hillard, Executive member for sustainability, added:
“Knowing the locations of ancient woodlands across the Island is very important. They add to the Island’s unique character and area of outstanding natural beauty.
“One of the main reasons people visit the Isle of Wight is to see the countryside and it is important these areas are protected for their social and economic benefits.
“Also, Natural England considers that ancient woodlands should be protected and this is key to any future policy or planning decisions.”