Wildlife Blog: The Oak Tree
If the past year and a half has taught us nothing else, it has at least helped us to appreciate our native wildlife more. The UK is full of incredible animals, plants and fungi, some of which are found nowhere else in the world, and many which are rare within our own nation.
In 2020, The Parks Trust asked local residents to help us ensure a better tomorrow for our local biodiversity by taking part in our acorn planting scheme. Unfortunately, this scheme is more important now than ever as ash dieback disease, the fungal disease that kills Ash trees, continues to spread across the UK’s forests. This World Environment Day we’d like to tell you all about the potential that each of your tiny trees has to make a positive impact on other wildlife in Milton Keynes.
A healthy English oak can live over 500 years and become, not only a shelter for wildlife, but an important food source as well. A recent study found that over 2,300 species of plant, animal and fungi depend on the oak tree and of these, 320 species are solely reliant on them for their survival! This extraordinary figure includes 38 species of bird, 31 species of mammal and over 1,100 species of invertebrate (animals such as insects, crustaceans and arachnids).
The scale of the importance of this tree species is hard to fathom. Not only do they directly support organisms living on, in or eating from them, they also help to shape the surrounding habitats by the amount of sunlight they allow to the forest floor and by providing a sheltered canopy. Oaks are one of the later species to come into leaf in the spring, and so we often see them surrounded by bluebells at this time of year. Bluebells require a moderate amount of sunlight, and they thrive beneath oak trees which allow just that little bit of extra light for longer than some other tree species.
Oak trees have long been a national icon and are symbolic for many other cultures including the Ancient Greeks and Druids, and hopefully their importance will continue long into the future. We have been overwhelmed with the amount of support shown for our acorn scheme and hope to continue improving habitats for wildlife all over Milton Keynes, with the help of our dedicated residents and their new oak saplings.
Are you taking part in our acorn collection campaign? Find out the latest information here.
Let us know how you’re celebrating #WorldEnvironmentDay by tagging @theparkstrust on social media.