Ancient woodlands are areas that have been continuously wooded since at least 1600AD (1750 in Scotland). They are the primary woodlands with wildlife communities, structure and soils that have been modified the least. Ancient woodland contains a diverse number of species and is considered to be a historic part of our landscape which is irreplaceable.
There are two different types of ancient woodland:
- Ancient semi-natural woodland. This is woodland that has developed naturally.
- Plantations on ancient woodland. This is woodland planted on sites that previously contained ancient woodlands.
 Features and processes
Ancient woodland is typically composed of:
- Vegetation layers (canopy, understorey, field and ground).
- Irregular canopy structure.
- Veteran trees.
- Large amounts of dead wood (standing and fallen).
- Undisturbed soils.
- Sustained natural regeneration in gaps.
Dead and decaying wood is a major part of ancient woodlands supporting a range of specialist invertebrates, fungi, epiphytic lichens, mammals and birds.
Ancient woodland and its associated soil have been shaped over centuries by the interaction of natural disturbance, local climatic conditions and soil conditions, solar radiation, temperature, atmospheric moisture and nutrient cycling.
Local planning authorities are advised to conserve and enhance biodiversity. In particular in relation to ancient woodlands, harm should be avoided wherever possible and the National Planning Policy Framework (nppf) states:
‘...planning permission should be refused for developments resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland...unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss’.
Developments can affect ancient woodland directly through the loss of trees or damage to the root systems and soils, or through pollution incidents or changes to the woodland’s drainage or water table.
 Locations of ancient woodland
The locations of ancient woodland sites over two hectares have been mapped and are available online from the MAGIC website and Forestry Commission. The databases are not considered to be complete and therefore it may be necessary to commission an ecologist to undertake an ecological survey in order to identify any ancient woodlands within development sites or close to them, that may be unrecorded.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- 11 things you didn't know about wood.
- Chain of custody.
- Definition of tree for planning purposes.
- Designated sites.
- Forest ownership.
- Forest Stewardship Council.
- National nature reserves.
- National parks.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Permission for felling or lopping a tree.
- Planning permission.
- Sustainably procuring tropical hardwood.
- Tree hazard survey.
- Tree preservation order.
- Trees in conservation areas.
 External references
Conservation Areas go ‘Back to the future’ at the Royal College of Physicians on 3 Oct as revolutionary historic placeshaping looks ahead to the next 50 years.
The Yorkshire Branch’s walking tour around Hull’s Old Town is part of the linked Heritage Trust Network (HTN) Conference on 3-4 October - special rates to IHBC members.
National Archives support for establishing fundraising charity - though only HESPR members have been notified before the opportunity closed on 22 September.
Historic England has issued the latest figures collated by the IHBC and ALGAO which highlights ongoing reductions in capacity even as workload continues to grow.
On 25 September applications open for the programme, supporting projects that run for a maximum of 2 years, with funding starting from 1 April 2018.
The conservation area house that generated its own IHBC ToolBox Guidance Note on the use of S.215 Notices may now be demolished and a new one built in its place.
Creative Europe Call - offering support for cooperation projects related to EYCH 2018 and targeting projects with a start date between January and September 2018 closes 22 Nov.
John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism has pledged the UK to helping save historic and artistic artefacts under threat in conflict-torn countries.
Entries to The European Association Awards (EAA) are now open and the deadline for entries is 5pm Friday 27th October 2017.
Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament
England’s DCLG the package of support worth £22.8 million to help communities develop plans to give them a real say in the development of their area.
City councillors rejected plans to a build ‘six-star’ hotel around the Category-A listed Royal High School after public objections - the developers ask Scottish ministers to intervene.