During National Tree Week (26th Nov to 4th December) we have been focussing on trees within the Malvern Hills landscape and the benefits that they bring for both people and wildlife.
As the charity caring for almost 1,200 hectares of this iconic landscape, we also care for a variety of other habitats including grasslands and heaths which are just as special as our trees and woodlands. Our aim is to create a biodiverse and resilient landscape, to maintain a wealth of woodlands and open habitats.
More than 57% of the Malvern Hills and Commons are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, primarily for their open grassland, ancient woodland, mire and meadow habitats. Open areas provide homes for birds, reptiles, and insects including ground nesting birds such as the meadow pipit, Worcestershire's rarest butterfly the Grayling and delicate flowers such as the harebell which can only thrive in open habitats. These open areas are also essential in the conservation of ancient archaeology and provide panoramic vistas for all to enjoy.
We therefore echo the Forestry Commission in the adage: "the right tree in the right place". Although tree planting can be an effective tool in combatting climate change through carbon absorption the importance of grasslands and other open habitats in this process can become lost. Grasslands are also carbon sinks, locking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, particularly grasslands with continually vegetative cover such as meadows.
Although woodland cover in England is 10% (below the 30% woodland cover of land under the Trust's care), just 5% of England is covered in important open habitats (heaths, meadows, species-rich or acid grasslands). Efforts toward climate change should not destroy these vital wildlife havens and ignore the carefully selected parts of the country where tree planting would bring benefit to all.
Our position is shared by many other wildlife conservation organisations including the Wildlife Trusts and the Woodland Trust.
Read our position statement here.