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A tale of two saws

A tale of two saws

by Nick Reckert ~ 24 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

A few years ago I bought six acres of neglected coppice-with-standards: oak, ash, hazel, sycamore and birch. The coppice-stools are tangled and overgrown, and the standards are tall and bare-stemmed. My aim – to coppice the wood systematically for domestic fuel – dictated the equipment. I’ve never liked chainsaws, so planned to use hand-tools only. Since my wood-burner gobbles up to 15mof logs a year, and I work alone, am in my mid-60s and have had a quadruple bypass, this may have been ambitious.

I used bow saws at first, but they were too clunky Read more…

Squirrelpox (SQPV) - how it spreads.

Squirrelpox (SQPV) – how it spreads.

by Chris ~ 22 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

It is well known that the native populations of the red squirrel have been depleted in significant numbers over the last century  This is in part due to habitat loss, and competition with and displacement by the grey squirrel but also the insidious squirrel pox virus has been at work. Research workers at the Queen’s University, Belfast have been investigating how this virus passes from animal to animal.

Though grey squirrels carry the virus, they seem to be relatively immune to its effects.  However, they pass out the virus in their urine.   The virus can persist in the environment for some time, especially if the conditions are dry and warm. Read more…

old forest

Białowieża- “a national treasure for Poland and an international treasure for us all”

by Lewis ~ 19 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Białowieża is a forested area that lies on the border of Poland and Belarus.  It includes some 1500 sq km of some of the tallest trees to be found in Europe, including towering hornbeams.  It is a species-rich area, with carnivores such a lynx and wolves, 120 bird species (including the three toed woodpecker and pygmy owl), 60+ mammal species including the bison!  The area has been described as a “national treasure for Poland and an international treasure for us all”.

The tracts of forest are special as they have never been felled, though it would be wrong to think of the woodland as ‘primaeval’  like the original ‘wildwood’. The woodland / forest supports a community through tourism, timber, hunting, honey and mushrooms, not to mention scientific researchers and the staff associated with the National Park.  However, only 105 square km of the forest has been designated as National Park or a Unesco Heritage Site. Read more…

Woodlands and Forests in the Netherlands

Woodlands and Forests in the Netherlands

by Lewis ~ 15 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

(The % of land covered by woodland or forests varies tremendously from country to country – throughout Europe.   The nordic countries such as Norway and Sweden, have large forests and therefore a high % cover, but others such as the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands are amongst the least ‘wooded’.

At present, the % woodland in the Netherlands is about 11%.  In part, this is due to the fact that the Netherlands is Europe’s most densely populated country (with 394 people per square kilometer).  There is a network of small and medium sized cities spread across the country; much of the land is used for agriculture.  However, the State Forestry Commision has developed a (3 billion euro) plan to increase the country’s wooded / forested areas by some 100,000 hectares. Read more…

Trees and flood mitigation

Trees and flood mitigation

by Chris ~ 10 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

With the changing nature of our climate, so extreme events have become more frequent.  The last fifteen or so years has seen significant episodes of flooding.  Flooding used to be a relatively unusual event in the U.K.   In consequence,  efforts are now being directed at finding ways of mitigating the effects of extreme rainfall.

The risk of flooding is associated with changes in our climate (notably rainfall patterns) and the techniques of land management have changed with the mechanisation of agriculture,  the creation of simplified (larger) field systems, land drainage, increased stock densities etc.  The U.K. landscape / countryside has altered significantly over the last fifty years.   Read more…

The national forest revisited

The national forest revisited

by Chris ~ 6 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

The National Forest scheme has celebrated its 25th anniversary.  It was and is a bold project, focusing on some 500 square kilometers of central England (parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire).  Whilst the area included farmland and some pockets of ancient woodland, e.g. Charnwood Forest to the east and Needwood Forest to the west, it also included many abandoned industrial workings such as opencast mines, quarries, clay pits and spoil heaps.

Some 8.5 million trees have been planted to date and now the area generates income through tourism Read more…

Primroses - heralds of spring

Primroses – heralds of spring

by Lewis ~ 2 March, 2017 ~ one comment

Mediaeval scholars used to refer to the primrose as ‘prima rosa’ or the first rose of the year.  The term ‘first rose’ is a misnomer as the primrose does not belong to the Rose family, but to the Primulaceae – a family that includes some 68 plant genera.  The common primrose is of botanical interest as its flowers occur in two forms – a phenomenon known as heterostyly or dimorphism.

The two forms of the flower are known as pin and thrum eyed forms.  In the thrum eyed flower,  the long stamens are visible (see featured image above) and the short stigma lies below them; whereas in the pin eyed flower the stigma projects above the shorter stamens (see image below). Read more…

Wood products, old and new

Wood products, old and new

by Chris ~ 24 February, 2017 ~ comments welcome

It is a truism to say that trees provide wood or timber.  Timber (or lumber in the States) is wood that has been processed into planks or beams, part of the process of wood production. Timber may be supplied either rough-sawn, or surfaced on one or more of its faces. It is available from many species, usually hardwoods; but it is also available in softwoods, such as white pine and red pine, because of their low cost. Finished timber is supplied in various standard sizes, mostly for the construction industry—primarily softwood, from coniferous species, including pine, fir and spruce, cedar, and hemlock, whereas hardwoods are for high-grade flooring and furniture. Read more…

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