Photographs of Thorpe woodlands, their varied habitats, plantlife and wildlife all taken by friends and supporters. most taken between 2010 and 2013

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Biodiversity: the importance of Thorpe woodlands

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has published the results of an intensive survey into plant biodiversity, which revealed that over 22% of plant species, globally, are now at risk of extinction. There has previously been surprisingly little focus on the decline in plants, most research having been concentrated on animals - birds and mammals in particular.

Kew's research shows that the main threat to plant biodiversity is habitat destruction, generally caused by agricultural conversion. Contrary to the assertions of pro-globalisation enthusiasts this does not mean the conversion of wilderness into fields for the benefit of malnourished people. Instead, the vast majority of natural habitat loss is due to industrial-scale exploitation to supply consumer demands in the rich world, eg: biofuel production, rubber, palm oil, cotton, soya and maize for beefstock feed etc. Deforestation remains by far the greatest factor in the extinction of terrestrial species, both flora and fauna.

Stephen Hooper, director of Kew, explains that their research will contribute to the forthcoming Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Nagoya, Japan, at which representatives of worldwide governments will, supposedly, agree on policies to halt loss of the world's biodiversity by 2020. Stephen Hooper says that the 2020 target may seem ambitious but that in a time of accelerating loss of biodiversity it is essential that all nations scale up their efforts.

The Thorpe woodlands are already recognised as a Core Area for Biodiversity by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, which includes Broadland District and Norfolk County councils. This is because of the sheer size of the woodland area, and their designation as County Wildlife Sites. But little in-depth research has been carried out into the biodiversity of these woods, beyond the CWS surveys in 1997. If expert surveys were carried out into the woods' fungi, lower plants, invertebrates, birds, bats and other mammals it is almost certain that they would be found to be of even greater conservation importance than previously realised.

Thorpe's woodlands provide, in microcosm, a local example of the importance of forest for its habitat value. One only has to refer to the species list (see the menu bar at the right of this page) to appreciate the enormous biodiversity significance of these woods. We can't afford to lose them, and their 'owners' must not be allowed to deprive the entire community of them for their personal profit.

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