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NEWS RELEASE No: 1548031 MAY 2012

Deadwood in forests and woodlands: new practice guide

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In the UK up to a fifth of woodland plants and animals depend on dead or dying trees for all or part of their lifecycle and many of these species are rare or threatened. To help improve the condition of woodlands and benefit wildlife, the Forestry Commission has written a new guide for woodland owners and managers who want to know where and how to manage woodlands for deadwood.

Dr Sallie Bailey, who advises on biodiversity and the environment for the Forestry Commission, said:

“A whole host of wildlife depends on deadwood. Lichens, fungi, bryophytes; nearly 150 invertebrates such as cardinal beetle larvae; hole-nesting birds such as woodpeckers and mammals including bats all use deadwood in their lifecycle.

“Historically, deadwood was removed from woodlands for firewood. Up until the late 20th century it was taken away due to a misconception of the need to sanitise woodland for its health – or simply to keep places looking ‘tidy’. We believe this led to the widespread decline of woodland biodiversity.

“We now know much more about how important deadwood is and I think there is a growing appreciation by visitors of the beauty and necessity of fallen, dying and dead trees. We hope our new guide will be a useful introduction to deadwood for woodland managers and help them meet the UK Forestry Standard Guidelines.”

The 32-page guide costs £6 and printed copies can be ordered from Forestry Commission Publications or downloaded for free as a PDF from the Forestry Commission website.


Notes to Editor

  1. The cardinal beetle image and other illustrations are available, please contact the Press Office.

  2. The Forestry Commission protects, improves and expands woodlands to increase their value to society the environment and the economy.

  3. Deadwood is vital for a properly functioning forest ecosystem. It plays an important role in sustaining biodiversity and in delivering ecosystem services such as forming soil and nutrient cycling. In the UK up to a fifth of woodland species depend on dead or dying trees for all or part of their life cycle and many of these species are rare or threatened.

    This Practice Guide has been written for the owners and managers of forests and woodlands who want to increase the value of their woodlands for biodiversity. It provides advice and practical guidance on managing deadwood to support sustainable forest management and the UK Forestry Standard Guidelines on Forests and Biodiversity. All types of forests and woodlands in the UK are covered in the Guide but the focus is primarily on the bulk of the woodland resource where there is little existing deadwood.

  4. Managing deadwood in forests and woodlands. Forestry Commission Practice Guide.
    Jonathan Humphrey (2012). ISBN 978-0-85538-857-7. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. i–iv + 1–24 pp. Keywords: biodiversity; deadwood; environment; forestry; sustainable forest management.

    Printed copies of the Practice Guide cost £6 and can be ordered (please quote stock code FCPG020) from:
    Forestry Commission Publications
    PO Box 785
    SK3 3AT
    0161 495 4845

    More information and a free PDF version of the Guide can be downloaded from

  5. Media Contact: Stuart Burgess, 0117 372 1073,