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Russian Forestry and Siberian pine.

Russian Forestry and Siberian pine.

by Angus ~ 20 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Siberia is a huge geographical expanse and contains about a fifth of the world’s wood reserves.  On a recent trip through Russia and Siberia, I saw first-hand what an enormous resource forestry is for Russia, representing almost half its land area.  Most of it is naturally occurring forest, or Taiga, which hasn’t been planted and regenerates quite well after harvesting.

The large cities in Siberia represent the heart of the Russian forestry business – cities like Arkangel, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Ust-Ilim, though the sheer size of the region makes transport and logistics difficult; Russia is the biggest country in the world by land area and has numerous adjoining neighbours.  One of the main arteries for extracting timber is the trans-Siberian railway which takes timber to Europe and the east (China buys 20% of Russia’s output). Read more…

Another threat to bees - the Asian hornet.

Another threat to bees – the Asian hornet.

by Chris ~ 16 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

There is a now a species alert for the Asian or Yellow legged hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax). It is an invasive, non-native species from Asia.  It feeds on honey bees and other beneficial insects such as hover flies and bumble bees.  The hornet hovers outside bee hives, waiting to catch and then kill bees as they return from foraging. It can cause significant losses to bee colonies / hives.

Indeed Professor Matt Keeling has predicted that if nests of the asian hornet are left to thrive in the U.K. then within two decades British populations of honey bees will be at risk. Read more…

Moth trapping.

Moth trapping.

by Ben Driver ~ 14 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust carried out a moth trapping evening at Cotgrave Forest on 4 August 2017. The event was hosted by one of the woodland owners. Neighbouring owners were invited along and the evening was supported by two local naturalists/ ecologists, Neil Pinder and Mike Hill.

The event yielded a total of 27 species, which is good given the recent unsettled weather. Although no particular rarities arrived at our moth trap, the diversity in colouring
and patterning of the moths was outstanding. This ranged from the mainly yellow Brimstone moth to the quite large and numerous Large Yellow Underwing, both of which came to our trap early on. Read more…

Beavers - reducing pollution?

Beavers – reducing pollution?

by Chris ~ 10 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Once upon a time, beavers (Castor fiber) were widespread in the U.K, however, there are few records after the 11th century and by the sixteenth century they were extinct .     They are still to be found in Europe; several thousand live on or near the Elbe and the Rhône, and in parts of Scandinavia.

They were hunted to extinction as the animal provided meat, fur and ‘medicine’.  The yellow secretion of their anal glands (castoreum) was used, at one time, as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic.   The Romans thought that the fumes from burning castoreum could induce an abortion.  Medical uses are no longer ‘in vogue’ but castoreum is used in the making of certain perfumes. Read more…

Tar spots

Tar spots

by Jasper Sharp ~ 27 July, 2017 ~ comments welcome

It is that time of year, when many of our plants are looking a bit past their prime. The flowers on many have turned to seed heads, much of the new growth of Spring is now yellowed or dried, and the assorted flora of meadow, woodland and garden alike are succumbing to fungal pathogens such as powdery mildew.

Another dramatic manifestation of the changing seasons around this time is the appearance of Tar Spots; peppering the leaves of sycamores and maples. Caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum, these brown-black blotches with yellow borders will be equally familiar to urban-dwellers, as they are commonly to be seen on that most ubiquitous of city trees, the London plane (Platanus acerifolia). Read more…

Woodland Goats 

Woodland Goats 

by Rebecca Cork ~ 24 July, 2017 ~ one comment

At Tortworth Arboretum we are restoring a 20-acre woodland for community use – clearing an abandoned woodland of ten years of neglect while making it accessible for people to come and learn about nature, as well as improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing. We manage the woodland mostly with hand tools and an ever-evolving team of volunteers who give their time freely to the project.   The woodland is host to hundreds of exotic trees from around the world, planted from the 1850s onwards by the local Earl, as well as some stunning veteran oaks and sweet chestnut trees.

And we have goatsRead more…

Foliar feeding - the Venus Flytrap

Foliar feeding – the Venus Flytrap

by Lewis ~ 13 July, 2017 ~ comments welcome

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula ) is a carnivorous plant found in  the wetlands of North and South Carolina in the United States.  The Venus flytrap is also popular as a cultivated plant and an ‘object of interest‘ and can be found in many a garden centre.

In the wild, the fly trap is found in areas with nutrient-deficient soils (often low in nitrate and phosphate).  The plant makes up for the ‘edaphic* limitations’ by trapping and digesting insects (and spiders) in their specialised leaf traps. By doing so, they are able to extract nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen which are in limited supply in the soil – from the bodies of their prey.   The ‘Dionaea diet’ is, in fact, 33% ants, 30% spiders (which are arachnids – not insects), 10% beetles and 10% grasshoppers – only a small percentage are actually flying insects. Read more…

Rivers, rainfall, abstraction, and pollution.

Rivers, rainfall, abstraction, and pollution.

by Chris ~ 9 July, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Many parts of the UK have recently experienced the driest October to March period for a long time.  This was followed by two relatively dry Spring months – April & May.  The Met Office Map of the UK found here – shows the rainfall pattern across the country as a percentage of the average rainfall for a 30 years period.

This has not only affected gardeners and farmers but river systems across the United Kingdom.  This is bad news as many rivers have already had too much water taken from them (abstracted) – for farming & industry.  The problem of over-extraction of river water is not helped by the fact that one fifth of all piped water is lost through leaks.  Thames water was recently fined millions for failing to reach its leak reduction targets. Read more…

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