The UK is the European stronghold for the Natura 2000 ‘Atlantic sessile oakwood’ (Quercus petraea) habitat, which is well represented in Wales – and where the more oceanic Welsh examples are of particular importance for their lower plant and lichen communities. These sessile oakwoods are climax communities invariably found on thin acid/base-poor soils. All of the more accessible examples are relatively young, i.e. less than 100 years old, and single-aged as a consequence of felling for timber during World Wars I or II. There are three reference states, determined by climate and management history.
Sessile oak woods
There are three reference states for sessile oak woodland in Wales: ravine woods, mature ‘oceanic’ woods and ancient ‘continental’ woods. Each of these is described in the sections below.
Although shaped by timber felling and/or intensive sheep-grazing in the recent past, these woods are often important for the biodiversity they support: most notably for their bryophyte, lichen and woodland bird communities. They are also aesthetically pleasing and popular with both the general public and those with a deeper appreciation of natural history. The most…