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Long term, large scale woodland creation in a “natural”experiment such as the WrEN project provides a unique opportunity to study soil development and changes over large spatial and temporal scales. Identifying the properties and changes of soil is crucial for understanding woodland habitat development and identifying the major influences on aboveground biodiversity change.
The WrEN soils project started in late 2016, when Forest Research staff visited 21 woodland and farmland sites across the English midlands. The chosen sites were a chronosequence of secondary broadleaf woodland (50–100 years old; these form part of the WrEN network), ancient semi-natural woodland (over 400 years old) and agricultural land adjacent to these woodlands (representing former land-use in the area). At each site, a range of samples were taken to analyse soil quality (such as soil nutrient and carbon stocks), as well as surveying earthworm species and abundance.
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