Forest and woodland are important and widespread habitat in the area. The forests are dominated by oak species, usually Sessile Oak Quercus petraea on more acidic soils, Pedunculate Oak Quercus robur on neutral soils, with significant pockets of Hornbeam Carpinus betulus, Hazel Corylus avellana and Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa. Mixed in with these is some Ash Fraxinus excelsior, Beech Fagus sylvatica, Silver Birch Betula pendula and Aspen Populus tremula, as well as many smaller species such as Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis, Wild Cherry Prunus avium, Field Maple Acer campestre, Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus and Rowan Sorbus aucuparia. All are managed for some combination of lumber, fuel, leisure and hunting. The management approach is generally light and biodiversity friendly, but ancient trees are rare. Fortunately the trees in many forests get old enough to have dead horizontal branches, a niche that is important for many insects and their predators, such as Middle Spotted Woodpecker. Although these broadleaf deciduous forests have been managed for centuries the species mix reflects the natural order. The forests are criss-crossed by tracks with mown verges, which are a surprisingly important part of the habitat matrix. The grass on the verge is flower rich and home to many butterfly species, including a number of Fritillaries. In the old Ash stands you might be lucky enough to encounter the Rosalia Longhorn beetle, and in areas with old Oak trees you can find the Great Capricorn longhorn beetle. Both these big beetles are very rare now.
|A Hornbeam parcel in the Forêt de Preuilly (perfect habitat for the edible fungus Horn of Plenty Craterellus cornucopiodes).|
Black Alder Alnus glutinosa, Ash, Poplar Populus spp and Birch are more common where the soil is wet. Downy Oak Quercus pubescens replaces the bigger commercial species on hot calcareous sites. Beech is uncommon, as it is too hot and dry.
Coniferous forests dominate in the Sologne. These are plantations, primarily of Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, but also Austrian Pine, originating in the 19th century to 'improve' the natural heathland on the sandy soil here. The understorey in these pine forests is dominated by Bell Heather .
The forests provide habitat for a number of notable species -- birds such as woodpeckers (especially Green Picus viridus, Black Dryocopus martius, Middle Spotted Dendrocopus medius and Grey-headed Picus canus); mammals such as Pine Marten Martes martes; beetles such as Great Capricorn Cerambyx cerdo and Stag Lucanus cervus; shade loving plants such as Bastard Balm Mellitus mellisophyllum; as well as hundreds of fungi.
|Mixed Beech and Sessile Oak woodland in the Forest of Loches.|