Between the dominant overstory and the rich ground layer is a middle layer of shrubs and small trees that will eventually become the overstory if conditions become favorable.
Efforts to restore the total ecological complexity of woodlands are relatively new, but it is both important and possible.
However, it is a slow process usually beginning with eradicating a serious exotic plant—buckthorn—that is literally taking over precious woodland acreage. Before restoration is possible removal and control of buckthorn and other exotics is imperative. Other challenges include the inability to use equipment in cramped quarters and the limited seed resource available to restorationists and ecologists. Interestingly, as with the other major plant communities, fire is an important tool for preparing and maintaining woodland sites.
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