Woodland Birds:  What might the government’s tree planting targets mean for our birds?  -  Emma Garner CEH

Dr Emma Gardner is an ecologist and research fellow based at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  She works with researchers, NGOs, practitioners and stakeholders to investigate how human and biodiversity benefits can be achieved in tandem through woodland creation. 

The government has pledged to increase tree planting to 30,000ha per year by 2025.  This target is primarily motivated by the desire to use trees to absorb carbon dioxide, as part of efforts to arrest climate change.  But where are all these trees going to go?  If these targets really are put into practice, all these extra trees have the potential to drastically change our landscapes. 

Much work is being done to identify the best places to create new woodlands, considering not only the carbon capture potential of trees, but also the many other benefits people can derive from them, such as reduced flooding, improved air quality and recreational activities.  On top of this, there is a common assumption that ‘trees are good for biodiversity’ and increasing tree cover has been heralded as a way to jointly address both the climate crisis and our biodiversity crisis – the progressive loss of wildlife from our countryside.  But anyone who has flicked through the habitat sections of a bird book knows it’s more complicated than that: woodland is a great habitat for some species and terrible for others. 

In this interactive talk, we will consider the different ways birds do (and don’t!) use woodlands, featuring examples from Oxfordshire and further afield.  I’ll share with you some of our latest research, aimed at helping people better take the needs of birds into account when making decisions around woodland creation.  Finally, we’ll finish by looking at the landscape around Banbury and discussing where you think new woodlands would be best located to balance the needs of people and birds.

In March 2020 the BTO launched their Chaffinch Appeal to raise funds to help them research why the UK population of Chaffinch is undergoing a significant decline. Read more ...

A survey where observers are each given a randomly selected 1km square and record all species and numbers of each for a minimum period of 2 hours between 9am and noon. Read more ...

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