Small woodlands in farmland have more benefits for humans per area, compared to large forests according to a new study.
The small woodlands, sometimes even smaller than a football field, can easily go unnoticed in agricultural landscapes. Yet, these small forest remnants can store more carbon in the topsoil layer, are more suitable for hunting activities and host fewer ticks than large forests.
“The value of these tiny forests has never been unraveled before, although the occurrence of small woodlands in agricultural landscapes has increased due to forest fragmentation”, says Alicia Valdés, one of the authors of the study.
The reason why these tiny woodlands may provide us with more services is because they naturally have more edges exposed to the influence of the surrounding environment.
“For example, there is more food supply for roe deer, such as blueberries and seedlings of birch and oak, because edges receive more sunlight and nutrients from the surrounding farmlands. This in turn, is predicted to attract more roe deer that can be hunted by humans”, says Alicia Valdés.
These tiny forests can also store more carbon per area in the topsoil layer than older big woodlands, because they have an increased soil biological activity, which makes them faster at absorbing organic matter. Potentially these can act as better carbon sinks and help counterbalance the effects of global warming.
Another benefit of the tiny forests is that they represent a lower risk of contracting a tick borne disease. This is because less tick larvae can survive in the dry and hot environments characterizing woodland edges.
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