Beech woods are dominated by the thick dense canopy of the beech tree. In summer this roof of leaves prevents sunlight from reaching the forest floor, stifling the growth of many other trees and wildflowers. However in spring, before the canopy forms, it's a different story when swathes of bluebells carpet the ground. Beech leaves take a long time to decay, so few nutrients are released to nourish ground plants. Consequently, there is little undergrowth in a beech wood, unless trees have been deliberately thinned out (coppiced). Beech woods are found on both calcareous and acidic soils.
The term English Lowlands beech forests refers to a terrestrial ecoregion in Northern Europe, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). Part of the Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome in the Palaearctic ecozone, it covers 45,600 km2 (17,600 sq mi) of Southern England, approximately as far as the border with Devon and South Wales in the west, into the Severn valley in the north-west, into the East Midlands in the north, and up to the border of Norfolk in the north-east of its range. The WWF code for this ecoregion is PA0421.
Other Terrestrial habitats
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