Ian D. Rotherham
British Wildlife 35.4 February 2024

Comment: The new ‘Locust Years’ of ancient-woodland destruction

The great woodland ecologist Oliver Rackham used the phrase ‘Locust Years’ to describe the period of intense destruction of ancient woodlands for plantation forestry that followed the Second World War. While threats from clear-felling and conifers now feel like distant memories, Ian D. Rotherham argues that we are now in the midst of a new age of devastation of ancient woods, driven by damaging modern forestry operations.

Ancient woodlands cover a diverse range of habitats, which at a landscape scale include former medieval forests, ancient parks, various wooded commons and, of course, ‘woods’. The last of these were mostly enclosed from wood pasture commons in the early medieval period.

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