The biodiversity crisis is very real, amounting to the disintegration of the web of life on which everything depends.

We are amidst the sixth mass extinction of species. In the last 50 years, the number of farmland birds has reduced by half, woodland edge butterflies by 40% and insects by huge numbers.

One area of devastation that has helped accelerate the crisis is the loss of ancient woodland. 

The UK is home to many temperate rain forests, mostly down the western side of the country plus Scotland. These areas have high rainfall.

The temperate rainforests boast lichens, moss and liverworts - they are great carbon sinks, as well as fostering biodiversity and human well-being. Birds like pied wagtails and redstarts live in these habitats.

The UK is one of the most deforested countries in Europe with just 13% of the landmass covered by trees. 

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan is concerned about the future of ancient woodland and rain forestsPaul Donovan is concerned about the future of ancient woodland and rain forests

Some 30% of Britain's ancient woodlands were cut down from 1950 to 1980, being replaced by quick-growing conifers. This variety of tree provides commercially saleable timber more quickly, but it has less biodiversity value.

Writer and campaigner, Guy Shrubsole has called for the saving of existing forests and restoration of much of what has been lost.

He makes a powerful case in his book The Lost Rainforests of Britain. 

In some ways, the best way to restore lost ancient woodland is to leave alone what remains.

Shrubsole argues that protecting and encouraging existing temperate rainforests will help re-establish them in the future. Much of the devastation to trees has been caused by sheep, deer and rhododendrons. 

So, reducing all three will help ancient woodland re-establish.

Let's hope in the coming years that our ancient woodlands and temperate rainforests revive. It will be for the betterment of all creatures living on this earth - including the human being.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (