Habitat Action Plan: Wet Woodland

By | August 7, 2008

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1 Current status
1.1 National
This habitat covers all woodland and scrub on damp substrates, including carr
woodland around water bodies and in hollows, floodplain woodlands, woodland on
remnant raised bogs and the drier parts of basins and valleys and woods on wet
flushes.
Wet woodlands are found throughout the UK. They occur mainly as small woods or
as localised patches in larger woods; large wet woods are extremely rare. Some
examples are difficult to delimit in the field as they occur as small patches in
depressions and along drainage lines which grade imperceptibly into drier ground.
A crude estimate of the total area of wet woodland is 50,000 – 75,000 ha, of which
25,000 – 50,000 ha is ancient woodland. Many more recent semi-natural wet
woodlands are due to succession from wetland and aquatic habitats.
There are seven types of wet woodland identified in the UK by the National
Vegetation Classification. In brief, these are: W1 and W2 Grey Willow woodlands;
W3 Bay Willow woodlands; W4 Downy Birch woodlands; W5, W6 and W7 Alder
woodlands. Wet woodland is a priority habitat in the UK BAP.

1.2 Local
There are no estimates of the total area, distribution, status and condition of wet
woodland for North Merseyside.
North Merseyside has no example of wet woodland which is of international or
national importance (although more research is needed on the Birkdale Green Beach
Alders – see below). North Merseyside has little wet woodland, yet wet woodland
was a significant habitat prior to drainage of the mosslands.
Wet woodland occurs in each district although the areas are small. Examples include:
Red Brow Wood, St Helens; Mull Wood, Liverpool; alder carr in Ainsdale NNR,
Sefton; Acornfield Plantation, Knowsley. Since 2000, a highly unusual linear alder
woodland has sprung up on old strandlines at the landward edge of Birkdale Green
Beach. Much of this woodland occurs in young dune slack and is therefore a type of
wet woodland.