wilidlife | trees and woodlands
after the end of the last Ice Age, the British Isles were covered with natural forests collectively known as wildwood. In North America patches still survive, though largely destroyed by pioneer settlers. In Britain, our wildwoods passed away in history and we have know written records. They have been reconstructed from pollen analysis.
When the Ice glaciation ended and the British isles became suitable for tree growth again, the trees which had migrated south came back north. The first to colonise the tundra where birch, sallow and aspen. These were followed by pine and hazel, then alder and oak, lime and elm, then holly, ash, beech, hornbeam, and maple. Trees fought one another by the natural processes of succession to form a series of climax woodland types, which covered all the British Isles, apart from moor and grasslands on high mountains.
Pollen analysis shows that wildwood had developed by 4000BC, as a mixed oak forest, with lime, elm combined to make up its own characteristic province in the South of England.
Neolithic man settled in the British Isles in 4000BC bringing with them crops, animals, and weeds which made up their agriculture. Spreading almost instantly across the country, converting forest to farmland or heath. The Bronze age spread to the mountains, changing the influence of man on nature to more than a local level. To convert millions of acres of wildwood into farmland is a great achievement even by today's standards. It is our ancestors with their axes, and picks which shaped up the country into the way it looks today, trees or no trees.