We were once a wooded country. But space for our agricultural revolution, fuel for our industrial revolution and the importance of oak warships in colonialism mean that not much of our forest remains. And despite moaning at Brazil for having the audacity to cut down its forest, we seem to be making little efforts to return our wildlife poor, pesticide laden, weed free monoculture farms back into woodland. And what little woodland there is, is managed. Meaning there is not much fallen timber left lying about. This is not good for many beetles.
Gardens have become increasingly important havens for wildlife. But again, fallen trees tend not to be a feature in most gardens. So I decided to have a woodpile. As well as providing a home for many insects, and food for more, it will make a handy home for some amphibians, reptiles & small mammals.
But its not just a case of piling up some wood. Oh no. Do your choice of insects prefer hardwoods or softwoods? Where can you find indigenous oak in varying sizes and states of decay? Should you ensure the kiss of spring sunshine warms the hibernating ladybirds, or go for the damp and dark so beloved of some of the more interesting fungi? Slow worms and newts like it moist, but bumble bees like it dry. So exposed cut surfaces to let the rain seep in, or logs placed horizontally to minimise the wet? And just how much subsurface wood should you provide?
So I obviously considered all these factors long and hard. Ok, I didn’t. I just said bugger it and piled up some wood. After all, there are 4000 species of beetle in the UK. I figure one of them will like it…