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Hedges in towns and cities.

Hedges in towns and cities.

by Chris ~ 8 June, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Hedges originally served the function of corralling animals; however they also offer habitats for many plant and animal species and they serve as important ecological corridors.  Now another role for hedges has been suggested – that of combating air pollution in our towns and cities.

Urban air pollution has been linked to Read more…

Why trees don't grow tall in the same way as people ....

Why trees don’t grow tall in the same way as people ….

by Angus ~ 1 May, 2017 ~ one comment

When you look at a small person (also known as a baby) you know that they will grow bigger in every dimension.  Trees don’t grow like that. A tree’s branch will stay at the same height however tall the tree grows: by contrast a child’s arm rises to a higher level as he or she grows taller.

The reason for this is that trees only grow in areas called meristems where they form new cells. Cells are created by cell division (mitosis) within the meristems, and these cells then expand and specialise.  These growth areas are found at the tops of the trees, and the tips of branches; these are “apical meristems“.  Growth also happens in the apical meristems at the ends / tips of the tree’s roots. Read more…

Bumblebee survival

Bumblebee survival

by Chris ~ 19 April, 2017 ~ 2 comments

The warmth of recent days has seen bumblebee queens foraging among the Spring flowers.    They have emerged from hibernation.  They now need to feed and then find a place to create a nest.  The queen will then lay eggs, which will become ‘daughter workers’.  Later in the season, males and new queens hatch – they will leave the nest / colony.  The new queens that are fertilised will hibernate after they have fed (heavily hopefully) on nectar and pollen from available flowers.

Researchers at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the University of East Anglia, the Zoological Society of London and University College London, have been studying different generations Read more…

"The Fight for Beauty" - Fiona Reynolds' book on the British countryside

“The Fight for Beauty” – Fiona Reynolds’ book on the British countryside

by Angus ~ 13 April, 2017 ~ one comment

People will only protect what they care about, and they will only care about what they have experienced” according to David Attenborough.  On this basis, Fiona Reynolds argues that we need to help the public to have easy access to the British countryside and to do conservation in a hands-on way rather than leave it all to professionals.  We must help people touch and feel trees and woodlands if we want them to be valued.

The Fight for Beauty” is a 320 page book containing a magnificent account of the efforts to preserve British landscape, species and habitats in the 60 years after the war but as Reynolds admits it is still true that, “nature protection remains weak” and habitat loss has been severe as we continue to witness the sixth mass extinction eventRead 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…

Sheffield - the battleground for those who care about street trees and woodlands

Sheffield – the battleground for those who care about street trees and woodlands

by Angus ~ 15 February, 2017 ~ 5 comments

Whilst Sheffield is renowned for its woodlands near to the city centre and its 36,000 street trees, it has now become the scene of conflict over their future.  A dozen people have now been arrested and the authorities have acted in ways that seem fairly heavy-handed.  Two older ladies each about 70 years old (Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw) were arrested when they protested against the tree-massacre. They weren’t actually charged, but others have been.

The battle over Sheffield’s trees all started when the City Council signed an agreement with Amey to manage some of their infrastructure, although the terms in the 7,000 page agreement are secret.   As it contains commercially sensitive information Sheffield Council are not revealing the full contents of the 2012 PFI deal (Private Finance Initiative) and even some of those defending it haven’t read the whole document. Read more…

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