A Brief History of Britain’s Ancient Woodland

Having once covered almost 90% of the UK’s land area, woodlands were significantly reduced by the 11th Century to pockets of small woods covering around 15% of the country.

During the last millennium these remnants of our original ancient forest have been subject to continual land use pressure; many being completely cleared and others converted from semi-natural woodlands into productive plantations. Woodland cover reached an all time low of 5% just after WW1.

Sadly, nearly 50 per cent of the ancient woodland that survived until the 1930s has since been lost or damaged by agriculture, development or planting by non-native conifers.

The UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan reports that in the last 100 years, 46 broadleaf woodland species have become extinct in the UK.

In addition, most of ancient woodland we have left is fragmented, 8 out of 10 ancient woods are less than 20 hectares (50 acres) in size and nearly 50 per cent of ancient woods are less than 5 hectares (13 acres). In addition, 85 per cent of the ancient woodland that remains has no legal designation.

Our Part in a Greener Future

Tree Planting
Book-Cycle aims to assist with the reforestation of England and encourage natural habitat for wildlife through tree growing and planting projects.

To date we have grown over 700 oak saplings from seeds our volunteers have collected locally and reinstated traditional hedgerows in Devon with hundreds of trees. We also work with the general public and local garden centres / nurseries to collect their unwanted saplings and offer them for a donation at our bookshop. All unwanted saplings are gratefully received at our bookshops.

A Seed Bank in a Bookshop?!seedbank1-min

A community seed bank is a network of seed saving and exchange that provides individuals with a resource for seed diversity and freedom in their locale.

At our bookshops we have created seed banks to encourage home food growing and self-reliance. At these ‘banks’ you can choose to take packets of seeds for a donation (part of your 3 items a day). Customers are also able to deposit any seeds they have lingering at home or have saved from plants they have grown, for use by others in their community.

We also seek to promote an ingenious yet intuitive way of gardening called Permaculture.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” – Greek Proverb