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​Woodland is well known as a habitat of particular interest for biodiversity. From the tall, broadleaf canopy down to the mosses and insects on the ground, a wood can support a huge number of different species of plants and animals. Above all, ancient woodland - land continuously wooded since at least 1600 in England and Wales or 1750 in Scotland (the difference arises because of the timing of available historical survey information) is the most important for wildlife (and history). Because of Britains long history of habitation, there are very few examples of landscapes that have had no human influence exerted upon them. Consequently, we describe these old woods as semi-natural. They are, however, incredibly valuable and support a far greater range of species than later (recent) woodland and constitute less than 20% of our total wooded resource. Most of the remaining ancient woods are small, under 20 hectares.

An easy way to spot ancient woodland is to look at its suite of wildflowers. Species such as Lords and Ladies, Primrose, Dogs Mercury, Wood Anemone, Enchanters Nightshade and Lesser Celandine are examples of flowers associated with ancient woodland. Their mere presence is not enough, but when "ancient woodland indicators" like these, and others, are found and there is a corresponding variety of native broadleaf trees like oak, ash, hazel and holly, things start to look promising. Because of the range of native species, as with other habitats, we find there are many insects and animals living off them (and each other). This is what makes ancient woodland so valuable to wildlife, along with an absence of major disturbance for hundreds of years, allowing so many species to become established.

Examples of ancient woodland in Redcar and Cleveland include Kirkleatham, Loftus, Deepdale and Clarkson's Woods.​


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