Tree-planting and bug hotels for Biodiversity
Tree-planting is becoming a frequent measure taken to increase the carbon captured from the atmosphere with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2. As well as increasing carbon sequestration, it also provides a multitude of benefits relating to biodiversity.
The trees being planted at the Eden Miniature Forest include oak, rowan, birch, and hawthorn. Planting a variety of tree species is beneficial as the structural differences allow the provision of a large range of habitats which are important in attracting birds, fungi, beetles, and lichens. Oak alone is the most important tree in Northern Europe for over 500 saproxylic (living/feeding on decaying wood) beetle species. Oak also increases lichen and fungal species richness, which are important components of a forest. Fungi, for instance, play a significant role in carbon and nutrient cycling in soils.
High species richness is important as it enhances the productivity of a forest, improves its resilience to adverse conditions, and offers the ecological services we need, such as soil stability and pollinator services. As well as providing a variety of new habitats to many species, we also gain non-material benefits from tree-planting, also known as cultural services. These include spiritual benefits, aesthetic value, and recreational value.
You can contribute towards planting the Eden Miniature Forest at the University’s Eden Campus in Guardbridge this Sunday 20th of March! For more details about this event, and many others, check out the St Andrews Forest page.
Apart from tree-planting, bug hotels are another great way to attract a range of organisms, including ladybirds, bees, woodlice and even hedgehogs. These ‘hotels’ promote biodiversity through providing species with habitats and overwintering sites which are particularly important for insects such as wasps and bees.
You can make your own bug hotel:
Materials: any natural materials such as long pieces of wood, straw, wooden pallets, bark, leaves, pinecones, woodchips, old bricks, and bamboo canes.
- Use bricks, logs, or larger pieces of wood to act as the base
- Add layers of wooden pallets (2-4) on top of each other
- Fill the spaces in with the rest of the materials (e.g. dry leaves and straw to attract ladybirds!)
Bug hotels are an easy and effective way to attract various organisms in a relatively small amount of space, making them a valuable tool in promoting biodiversity. This allows us to make a big difference to our local wildlife!
References & Further Reading:
- Baird, A. and Pope, F. (2022) ‘‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’: The importance of fungi in the context of UK tree planting’, Food and Energy Security, e371.
- Di Sacco, A. et al. (2021) ‘Ten golden rules for reforestation to optimize carbon sequestration, biodiversity recovery and livelihood benefits’, Global Change Biology, 27(7), pp.1328-1348.
- Lof, M. et al., (2016) ‘Management of oak forests: striking a balance between timber production, biodiversity and cultural services’, International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services and Management, 12, pp.59-73.
- Mölder, M., Meyer, P. and Nagel, R. (2019) ‘Integrative management to sustain biodiversity and ecological continuity in Central European temperate oak (Quercus robur, Q. petraea) forests: An overview’, Forest Ecology and Management, 437, pp.324-339.
- Quine, C.P. and Humphrey, J.W. (2010) ‘Plantations of exotic tree species in Britain: irrelevant for biodiversity or novel habitat for native species?’, Biodiversity Conservation, 19, pp.1503-1512.
- RSPB, 2022. Available at: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/nature-on-your-doorstep/garden-activities/build-a-bug-hotel/
Many thanks to our Biodiversity Working Group Student member, and post author Anna Michalopoulou for bringing this information together.