Barnsley Biodiversity Trust: Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Last Updated April 2018

Deciduous woodland features that support wildlife

The woodland and types of trees and flowering plants vary according to the soils on which they grow. They vary in their nutrient content, acidity and ability to hold moisture.

The neutral shale soils of the slopes and valleys support the richest flora in woodland and damper woodland areas support a distinct flora. The thinner, more acidic, poorer sandstone soils on steeper slopes or hill tops are less rich in spring flowers. As the conditions become wetter and colder the vegetation changes yet again.

Woods and their trees, undergrowth and leaf litter, are important for wildlife.  Different species use specific woodland features for food or foraging, nesting and roosting, shelter and a refuge from predators.

A full range of woodland wildlife species requires a complex woody structure of trees and shrubs (for example, low hanging boughs, twigs and leaves, open soil, leaf litter, standing and fallen dead wood);

Areas where woodland grades into open scrub, grassland, wetlands and heath, sheltered glades and rides, are important as are older trees with a good, spreading structure and abundant dead wood.

Some species respond positively to scrub regeneration or short open vegetation. Some need higher humidity.

Dead, decayed or decaying wood is an essential component of woodland ecosystems; this includes standing trees, dead branches, stems and snags on living trees and fallen branches and stumps. Humid leaf litter and decaying wood support a great range of invertebrate species.

Butterflies, moths and other insects often require specific species of tree, shrub and ground cover as larval food plants. The locally rare Purple Hairstreak Butterfly is found on Oak, White Letter Hairstreak found on Elm and other butterflies depend on grasses and other plants found in wide rides and glades.

Species supported by woodland

Bat species. Most bats use woodland for roosting or foraging. Roosts of Common and Soprano Pipistrelle, Natterer’s and Brown Long-eared Bats are almost always near a woodland.

Other mammals in woodland habitats include deer, Fox, Badger, Hedgehog, as well as mice, voles and shrews.


Birds in woodland include the red listed Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Willow Tit, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Hawfinch; the amber listed Green Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, and Redstart;  as well as Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Jay, Tawny Owl and Buzzard, all breeding in Barnsley.

Invertebrates. Woodland supports a wide range of insects and other invertebrates, including centipedes, woodlice and millipedes, ants, flies, bees, moths and butterflies.

Many butterflies are regularly found in woodland and specific woodland butterflies include Speckled Wood, Comma, Ringlet, Purple Hairstreak, White-lettered Hairstreak.

The butterfly White-letter Hairstreak; macromoth, Yellow-legged Clearwing; and longhorn beetle, Stenocorus meridianus, have been found in Hugset wood for example. An indicative list of invertebrates found in different Barnsley woodland sites is to follow.

Plants. More details of woodland plants will be found in the overview and in a section on ancient woodland indicators.

1256 woodland species were studied in the 2013 State of Nature report.

60% had suffered overall declines and 34% decreased strongly.

A few  - like Buzzard and Great Spotted Woodpecker - increased.