Deciduous Woodlands

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Deciduous Woodlands

Climate: Deciduous woodland ecosystems are found in areas where the summer temperatures range between 15 and 20°C, whilst the cool winters don't generally drop below zero. Rainfall is moderate, usually between 1000 and 1500mm, and it falls throughout the year. The good summer temperatures and long days mean that the ecosystem is a very productive one.


Soils: The typical soil of British deciduous woodland is a brown earth. This is a reasonably fertile, mildly acidic soil. Some leaching occurs, and earthworm activity helps to mix up the soil. Leaves decomposes lowly and add to the humus on the top layer of the soil.

Vegetation: Deciduous trees are ones that drop their leaves in the autumn. This huge leaf fall helps to create fertile material on the forest floor. The trees of the woodland are species such as oak, ash, birch and maple. They are typically about 20 to 30 metres high and form the top layer of the forest canopy. Below them on the forest floor, smaller trees and shrubs, such as holly, grow up. This very much depends on how much light is allowed through to the forest floor. Below this shrub layer a third, ground, layer is found. This consists of plants such as brambles and bracken that take up the bottom metre of the forest layers.

Clearance: Huge tracts of deciduous woodland have been cleared across Britain over the past centuries, as humans have cut the trees down for building materials and fuel. Settlements were built close to woods, as they allowed local people a place to hunt, find fuel, and find protection in times of danger.

Agriculture: One of the primary reasons for the clearance of many of the deciduous woodlands around Britain was to use the area for agriculture. This occurred as more and more new settlements grew and the food sources of the forests ran out.