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The birds and the bees,  insecticides and wildlife

The birds and the bees, insecticides and wildlife

by Lewis ~ 24 November, 2015 ~ one comment

The woodlands’ blog has often reported on the problems that bees and bumblebees are facing; these range from habitat loss & fragmentation, changing agricultural practices, parasites (varroa) and viruses, climate change and extreme climate events and the use of pesticides (particularly neonicotinoids).

Now there is evidence accumulating that the decline in various bird species  (sparrows, swallows and tree starlings) can be correlated with the use of insecticides.   A group of researchers from Birdlife (Netherlands), the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and Radboud University, Institute of Water and Wetland Research have been studying bird population declines at the turn of the century.  Read more…

Counting the trees.

Counting the trees.

by Chris ~ 19 November, 2015 ~ 2 comments

How many trees are there in the world?  Four hundred billion was the figure often quoted; that is, until this month when a report in Nature has come up with a figure slightly in excess of three trillion.   This approximates to 420 trees for each person on the plant.

How was this figures arrived at ?  Well, the team (an impressive array of scientists from Universities and research institutions all over the world) amassed data from national forest inventories, plus peer reviewed studies where forests and woodlands had been studied in detail; this information was then used to inform what was also being seen on satellite imagery. For the purposes of the study a tree was defined as “a plant with a woody stems larger than 10 cm at breast height“.  Read more…

How are owners and woodland managers responding to climate change?

How are owners and woodland managers responding to climate change?

by Angus ~ 11 November, 2015 ~ comments welcome

Gabriel Hemery of the Sylva Foundation has a deep interest in how woodland owners behave.  He wants to know what’s really happening out there so he’s been asking people – particularly about how they are responding to environmental change.  Bearing in mind that 92% of British deciduous woodlands are privately owned, Dr Gabriel Hemery points out that it’s worth finding out about the attitudes of woodland owners and their managers. Recently he got the views of about 1,500 of those with an interest in woodlands.  It’s the British Woodlands Resilience Survey and some of the results were surprising. Read more…

Changing moth populations.

Changing moth populations.

by Lewis ~ 5 November, 2015 ~ one comment

Many of the ‘headlines’ in newspapers etc.  speak about the loss of particular species (e.g. elephants, rhinos) and whilst these are important animals and the reduction in number of any species is a cause for concern, they are not necessarily good indicators of the threats to the millions of species that seemingly pass unnoticed.   In terms of sheer abundance and, indeed,  diversity of form – the arthropods, and particularly the insects are unsurpassed.

In order to know what is happening to our wildlife in general, it is a good idea to take a close look at what is happening to insect populations / species.   Fortunately, this is possible as since Victorian times Read more…

What are resilient woodlands?

What are resilient woodlands?

by Angus ~ 30 October, 2015 ~ 4 comments

Making woods resilient has become the latest fashion in forestry as illustrated by the RFS conference being organised with the Woodland Trust in Birmingham at the start of October.ˇ Resilience in this context means resilient both to diseases and to climate change effects.  Much of the thinking is based on the 2015 British Woodlands Resilience Survey which has been organised by the Sylva Foundation and sponsored by Oxford University, the RFS and the Woodland Trust.ˇ There have also been useful presentations on the subject such as the one given at the CONFOR Show (Confederation of Forest industries) show at Longleat, Wiltshire in early September 2015. Read more…

Comments on recent articles

Comments on recent articles

by blogs ~ 28 October, 2015 ~ comments welcome

Apologies to anyone who has posted a comment recently that has not appeared beneath the relevant blog.

Sadly, the site has been inundated with hundreds of spurious comments / advertising links each day; these have made it next to impossible to isolate the genuine comments.





Woodland types : scrub

by Chris ~ 21 October, 2015 ~ comments welcome

Scrub is not woodland per se, but it is often found where woodland starts or ends; or where woodland might develop (e.g. on an abandoned field).Scrub or scrubland is generally vegetation dominated by bushes / shrubs (e.g. blackthorn and hawthorn) with many stems, perhaps reaching to a height of 12 / 15 feet – so that some sort of canopy develops. Many scrub plants are pioneer species, which grow fast and can colonise open habitats quite rapidly.

Such pioneer species frequently produce large numbers of seeds (for example, bramble has lots of seeds in the attractive succulent fruits), which are often dispersed by birds (such as thrushes) or by wind – e.g. travellers joy / old man’s beard. Seeds generally germinate better in open grassland than in dense shade. Some scrub species (like blackthorn and gorse) have spines on their stems which are effective in deterring browsing animals (deer, sheep & rabbits) Read more…

Solar cookers for the days when you don't want to light a campfire

Solar cookers for the days when you don’t want to light a campfire

by Angus ~ 15 October, 2015 ~ comments welcome

One of the things that allowed primitive man to spend less time on sustenance and to extend the range of edible foods was the ability to cook – this depended on lighting fires and later on, crucially, the development of pottery and metal to create containers for cooking.  Modern man (and women) take this for granted but we have mostly moved away from burning wood and instead we cook at home using gas or electricity.   Woodland campers often go back to ancient methods of cooking by lighting fires, but there is now a modern off-grid solution which is a solar powered cooker.  This particular device uses the radiation from the sun just like a domestic solar thermal installation which produces hot water.  The sun’s rays are concentrated on a cylinder which is surrounded by a vacuum tube.  To make it work well you need to point the device  towards the sun – a small vertical pin helps you to to know when you have it optimally positioned.  So the key to solar cookers is threefold: concentrating sunlight, converting it to heat energy and trapping this energy. Read more…

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