North York Moors

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Woodland wildlife

Wild Garlic by North East WidlifeWild Garlic by North East Widlife

The woodlands of the North York Moors provide an important habitat for wildlife.

In native broadleaved woods, the ground is carpeted with shade-loving plants, insects abound and birdsong fills the air. Bluebells, ferns, wild garlic and wood anemone are commonly found, as well as various species of fungi.

Although it might not seem like it, the large coniferous plantation forests also have a distinctive wildlife, including bird species like crossbill, goshawk and nightjar.

To understand the interdependence of woodland and wildlife, consider the oak tree. There are two species native to Britain – the English Oak (Quercus robur) and the Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea), both massive trees which can grow up to 40 metres in height. Together, they provide a home for more species of wildlife than any other European tree. 

Squirrels and many birds shelter, feed or nest in the canopy, and many insects eat the leaves. Mosses, lichens, algae and insects live on or in the bark, while the acorns feed all sorts of animals from deer, squirrels and rabbits to mice and birds. Even when a tree dies it continues to provide food and shelter for wildlife as it slowly decays.