THE vital role of ancient woodlands like those in the Forest in protecting the environment and wildlife in the UK is being highlighted through Sir David Attenborough’s new BBC series ‘Wild Isles’, which premiered last Sunday night (March 12).

To celebrate the show’s release, the filmmakers are shining a light on nature reserves which strive to conserve key habitats at home in Britain, starting right on our doorstep at RSPB’s Nagshead in Parkend.

The first episode features glimpses of what’s to come over the next six weeks of the series, with tonight’s programme set to zone in on the first of four key habitats, woodland.

The way woodlands are managed to help tackle the nature and climate emergencies is illustrated as well as anywhere else in the UK here in the Forest.

Ahead of tonight's episode, RSPB Nagshead site manager Lewis Thompson and assistant warden Emily Bennett spoke of the importance of planting the right trees in the right places for biodiversity and capturing carbon.

The Forest reserve is also particularly important for wildlife due to its abundance of decaying wood, which they say is crucial for creating a healthy woodland environment.

Lewis explained: “Woodland without dead and decaying wood is a dead woodland. It’s the lifeblood of the wood and the decay and species associated with it.

“We leave all standing and fallen decaying wood if it is safe to do so.”

Decaying wood provides a home for fungi and slime moulds which break down other decaying matter on the woodland floor, providing food for some insects which in turn become food for birds and mammals.

Standing decaying wood also offers nooks and crevices for birds and bats to make their home.

Lewis continued: “Some visitors to the reserve have commented that the reserve looks ‘messy’ because of the decaying wood and have asked us to clear it up, but we’re working hard to help people understand its importance in the woodland ecosystem and that without decaying wood RSPB Nagshead and its amazing wildlife, wouldn’t be here for people to enjoy”.

The first episode of ‘Wild Isles’ is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now, and the woodland episode airs tonight on BBC1 at 7pm.