Celtic broadleaf forests
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|Celtic broadleaf forests|
|Biome||Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests|
|Borders||North Atlantic moist mixed forest, and Caledonian forest|
|Country||England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales|
The Celtic broadleaf forests are a terrestrial ecoregion native to western Great Britain and most of the island of Ireland. The Celtic broadleaf forests occupy the eastern part of Ireland; the majority of Wales; the southwest of England, including Cornwall and Devon; central and northern parts England; and southern Scotland extending along the North Sea coast through most of Aberdeenshire and Moray. The forest is part of the temperate broadleaf and mixed forest biome of Western Europe.
Ninety percent of the Celtic forests habitat has been destroyed, generally over the last few thousand years, due to agriculture needs, need for wood for fire during the winter and general deforestation. The outcome is an ecoregion which has not only lost most of its pristine cover, but which has been heavily degraded by fragmentation. The forests today are in a critical status with the majority of the land now the rolling pasture-hills typically associated with England.
Fauna and flora
Animals known to inhabit the forests are as follows;
- European otter
- European badger
- Red deer
- Roe deer
- Greater horseshoe bat
- lesser horseshoe bat
- European hedgehog
- Red fox
Many other species once inhabited the forest however due to exploitation of natural resources, deforestation and hunting many animals have gone extinct, many of these animals were once numerous across the British isles, they include the following; grey wolf, wild boar, lynx, European beaver among others.
The climate of the forest is Oceanic climate this means temperature extremes are rare, frequent precipitation, high precipitation days, high moisture and low sunshine levels. The combination of moisture and low evaporation (low sunshine amounts) leads to high dampness levels.
This ecoregion is relatively young with regard to human settlement, this is due to glacialation during the last ice age when it was unsuitable for human settlement. Mesolithic peoples were certainly in evidence circa 9000 to 8000 years ago throughout the present day English portion of the ecoregion, as well as the Welsh, Irish and eastern Scotland areas of the Celtic broadleaf forests.
As the Roman Empire expanded, the Roman peoples arrived to begin recorded history within the ecoregion, with major Roman urban settlements commencing in the first century AD, although evidence shows indigenous towns such as York had existed for a millennium prior. Viking settlement in coastal areas of western Scotland, Wales and eastern Ireland are widespread beginning at least by the ninth century AD.