I have a local 'forest management group' in my area. One of the jobs they do is to thin out the forest by removing some of the trees. They then sell the wood for firewood.

I want to tell them to leave the dead wood in the forest, as it is part of the food chain.

Can anyone give me an estimate of how much energy dead wood provides for the food chain in a temperate forest, as a percentage of the overall energy generated by the forest?

Also how biodiverse is a forest with the dead wood left alone compared to one with the dead wood removed?

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    $\begingroup$ It's going to depend on your area. From my observation, in much of the US west dead wood does not seem to form a major part of the food chain. It is removed by fires. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I live in the UK. It is too wet here for forest fires. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ my rspb woodsman left wood heaps of any size and height as animal nests. depends on climate. they can favor ants hhogs mammals parasite ichnumanae and uncommon beetles. a wild forest has much more detrital ecology biomass and insects. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2017 at 10:48

1 Answer 1


Dead wood is indeed very important to the food chain, and to the ecology and biodiversity of a forest. Lots of biota depend on the presence of dead wood; many species of insects and fungi only live on dead wood. See for example this study of fungi in Danish Beech forests. The amount of dead wood present depends, apart from management, on the type of forest, the climate (and hence altitude!) and the age of the forest. This study provides a preliminary estimate of the amount of dead wood in British forests and might be very interesting to you. This study gives a review of dead wood in European (incl UK) Beech forest reserves.

I hope this will help you in the right direction. If you want any more information, please let us know. And preferably include some more information on the specific forest (type of trees, location) that you are interested in.

EDIT: I recently stumbled across this project, that resulted in a systematic review of interventions that affected the occurrence of dead wood and saproxylic species in boreal and temperate forests.


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