Willows in the farming landscape: a forgotten eco-cultural icon

ROTHERHAM, Ian (2022). Willows in the farming landscape: a forgotten eco-cultural icon. Biodiversity and Conservation, 31 (10), 2495-2513.

10531_2021_Article_2324.pdf - Published Version
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Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-0...
Open Access URL: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s105... (Published version)
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-021-02324-2


Abstract: Recent studies have revealed a largely forgotten rural landscape in which Salix (willow) species were a characteristic, iconic, and utilitarian feature. In former wetlands, now largely removed by massive drainage schemes since the 1600s various willow species were distinctive features of the landscape and of major value to agricultural communities that inhabited those places. From lowlands to uplands across the British countryside willows dominated much wetter and more extensive landscapes. Remnant upland willow woods (now present as ‘shadow woods’) exist as isolated remnants in small wet habitats in an often desiccated landscape fragmented and drained. In the lowlands, especially former fenland areas, willows were present in extensive wet (carr) woodlands and in cultivated beds of withies or osier holts, and as coppices and pollards on boundaries and in field edges across the countryside. The economic driver of withy beds survived in the main English fenlands until the mid-twentieth century. Today these once extensive and important landscapes are mostly forgotten and derelict; and furthermore, the eco-cultural resource of the willows is currently under threat with unrecorded veteran trees being actively removed by farmers. This paper introduces the significance of the willow landscapes, the history of the eco-cultural resource, and the implications of neglect for future conservation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Springer Nature via Jisc Publications Router ** Licence for this article: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ **Journal IDs: pissn 0960-3115; eissn 1572-9710 **Article IDs: publisher-id: s10531-021-02324-2; manuscript: 2324 **History: published 08-2022; online 25-11-2021; published 25-11-2021; registration 08-11-2021; accepted 06-11-2021; rev-recd 31-10-2021; submitted 27-09-2021
Uncontrolled Keywords: Original Paper, Willow, Salix, Fenland, Coppice, Pollard, Withy, Eco-cultural landscape
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-021-02324-2
Page Range: 2495-2513
SWORD Depositor: Colin Knott
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2022 15:35
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 10:15
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/30703

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