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Human uses of temperate deciduous woodlands

People use deciduous woodlands as a source of timber, for recreation and conserving wildlife. Woodland managers have to maintain a balance between conservation and human activity.

Uses of deciduous woodland

Humans use woodlands in a variety of ways:

  • as a resource - wood is used for fuel (firewood) or as timber for buildings
  • for recreation - for example for deer hunting or walks
  • for conservation

Case study: Epping Forest

Epping Forest is an example of a deciduous forest. It is located in north-east London.

Map showing location of Epping Forest in relation to London

The forest is used by visitors and looked after to help maintain the wildlife and its historic landscape.

Recreational activities here include:

  • walking
  • horseriding
  • cycling
  • fishing in the larger ponds and lakes

There are also 60 football pitches and an 18-hole golf course in Epping Forest.

The management of temperate deciduous woodland - Epping forest

pollarded tree

A pollarded tree

The City of London Corporation has overall responsibility to manage the forest, which is a site of special scientific interest which protects the trees by law. The management has to balance conserving the land with keeping it open to the public. This is difficult to do.

Traditional management techniques include pollarding [pollarding: Trees are cut above shoulder height to encourage new growth. ]. This technique encourages new growth, and maintains the trees for future generations. It is a form of sustainable management [sustainable: Doing something in a way that minimises damage to the environment and avoids using up natural resources, eg by using renewable resources. ] in the woodland. Pollarding also encourages birds to nest.

Dead wood is left to rot. Rotten wood is food for fungi and encourages wildlife. Some grassy areas are left uncut to encourage wildlife like butterflies.

The recreational areas for biking and horse riding are marked out. This reduces damage to other areas of the forest.

Back to Ecosystems - the living world index

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