Conifer plantations are a familiar sight across the British landscape but are often thought of as being ‘wildlife deserts’. In this article however, Charles Hipkin instead focuses on the significance of the biodiversity in conifer plantations, and draws on his own observations of plantations in South Wales to describe their ecology and the novel recombinant habitats that they provide.
The enormous expansion of conifer plantations that took place after the Second World War brought about some remarkable changes in the landscape and ecology of the British countryside. Today, about 7% of the land surface of Britain is covered in planted conifers (approximately 1.5 million ha), which amounts to just over half of Britain’s forests and more than 60% of all woodland in Wales (Blackstock et al. 2010).