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Trees as indicators of erosion

Trees as indicators of erosion

by Chris Colley ~ 19 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We are all familiar with the idea of coastal erosion,  houses near the cliff edge or situated on sandy dunes fall away as the shore is battered by high tides and fierce  winds - this has been seen most recently at Hemsby in Norfolk; sometimes whole communities disappear into the sea (think Dunwich). Many areas of the East Anglian coast have been and are subject to the ravages of the sea. Read more...

UK government's 25 year plan - what does it mean for our trees and seas?

UK government’s 25 year plan – what does it mean for our trees and seas?

by Angus ~ 15 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Early in 2018 the government launched its 25 year environment plan which covers everything green that they could think of from water to waste, and from chemicals to climate change.  It's full of the usual good intentions mostly for far off dates when current politicians will either be drawing comfy pensions or themselves will have become integrated into the environment.  But it does have some specific plans for our woodlands and our oceans.

For forestry in England there is a specific tree-planting target which the Woodland Trust have been actively lobbying over many years - the plan aims to increase tree cover by 180,000 hectares before the end of 2042.  Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

The Monthly Mushroom: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

by Jasper ~ 11 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Looking for fungi in the wild is one thing, but if you really want to get to know your mushrooms, what better way than to grow your own? With growing kits for a good number of different varieties available from various shops or online sources, it is not quite the dauntingly complex process you might think (see final image below).

By far the easiest to cultivate at home are Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.), which thrive on a variety of substrates. Paul Stamets’ seminal Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (2005) contains photos of them thriving on straw, corncobs, human hair, wood chips, old clothing and even a straw-stuffed armchair.  The most common of the “exotic” types to start making their way into our supermarkets over the past couple of decades, the Oyster mushroom owes its name more to its shape than its delicate taste and texture. Read more...

Plants and pollutants

Plants and pollutants

by Lewis ~ 6 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

There are plants that we like, and some that we don’t.  In the latter category, there are weeds - the plants that grow in the ‘wrong places’.  The plants that we like include those that we eat (crops), those that we grow for timber, for pharmaceuticals or for aesthetics / pleasure.  However, we now can add other uses for certain plants - namely phytoremediation and phytomining.

Phytoremediation involves the use of plants to ‘extract’ heavy metals from contaminated land.  Land can become contaminated with potentially harmful metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, copper) due to mining activities.  Read more...

Woodlands and biodiversity

Woodlands and biodiversity

by Lewis ~ 29 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Most regard woodlands as a beautiful and important part of our countryside, and feel that they can exert a profound and positive influence on our emotional state.    Time spent wandering through the woods can have a relaxing and calming effect. Woodland only forms a small percentage of our countryside (about 13%), and some of that is dominated by conifers planted in the post-war period for timber production; however, the area covered by broad leaved trees is now increasing.    Despite this, our woodlands do harbour a wonderful variety of wildlife (think of the red squirrel, the nightingale, the dormouse) but there is concern that woodland plants and animals face a number of threats - many species are in decline.   Why is this ? Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom: The Egghead Mottlegill (Panaeolus semiovatus)

The Monthly Mushroom: The Egghead Mottlegill (Panaeolus semiovatus)

by Jasper ~ 25 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Paul Stamets in his mycological bible Mycelium Running writes that “Mushrooms can be placed in 4 basic categories: saprophytic, parasitic, mycorrhizal, and endophytic, depending upon how they nourish themselves,” pointing out that many deploy a mixture of all these strategies.

The woodlands blog has featured the mycorrhizal types such as the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) that derive their energy by forming mutually-beneficial relationships through extending the root systems of trees and other plants. Both parasitic and endophytic types sustain themselves by living on or within other organisms, be they plant, animal or whatever, the former to the detriment of its host, the latter harmless and sometimes even beneficial. The pathogenic Honey Fungus (Armillariam sp.) is a good example of a parasitic type, while the relationship between Tar Spots and the leaves of the sycamores and acers that they appear on is best described as endophytic. Read more...

The geology of your woodland: looking for fossils in the rocks 

The geology of your woodland: looking for fossils in the rocks 

by Angus ~ 22 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

In principle as a freehold woodland owner you own the space above and below your woodland - from the centre of the earth to the highest heavens ("ad coelum et ad inferos" as the old latin legal phrase goes).  This means that for most woodland owners if they were to dig down one or two hundred metres they would go through many of layers of rock going back millions of years and probably containing numerous fossils.  Even though it's impractical to dig down very far some owners like the thought that they have rights over thousands of fossils, however inaccessible.

In some woods these fossils are quite accessible and are actually near the surface.  Woodlands turn out to be a surprisingly promising place to study geology and look for fossils.  That's because they are a relatively undisturbed part of our countryside and rock faces are often left exposed.  Additionally rocky soils and steep slopes were unsuitable for agriculture and often kept as woodland.  Sometimes small quarries were dug in woods for building the nearby roads or forest tracks and these quarries reveal the underlying rock and occasionally fossils. Read more...

Scrabble blog : Part 2 letters I – Q by Bella and Stuart.

Scrabble blog : Part 2 letters I – Q by Bella and Stuart.

by Stuart ~ 3 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Some further woody related words to impress your scrabble playing friends with!


Iceni: A tribe of ancient Britons inhabiting an area of south-eastern England in present-day Norfolk and Suffolk. Their queen, Boudicca, led an unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans in AD 60. SCORE = 7

Igneous :  A type of rock, formed from solidified lava or magma. SCORE : 8

Ingle: A domestic fire or fireplace. SCORE: 6

Inglenook: A small recess that adjoins a fireplace. SCORE: 14 Read more...

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