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Why buy a small wood?

Why buy a small wood?

by Paul Hanson ~ 23 August, 2017 ~ 5 comments

As the managing director of a professional, family owned, tree management company I took the rather self-indulgent decision to purchase a small 5 acre woodland for the business in 2016. My accountant and many others have asked why? As urban foresters, we are trained and experienced in managing trees and woodlands (less so in managing the tree owners).

The purchase of our own woodland allows us to put into place what we believe to be best practice woodland management, as we see it, without having to accommodate any third-party demands driven by a need to generate an income. Whilst not viable to operate for commercial timber production, as in investment our new woodland is perhaps better than money in the bank?


Russian Forestry and Siberian pine.

Russian Forestry and Siberian pine.

by Angus ~ 20 August, 2017 ~ one comment

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...

Richard Mabey’s Weeds and Beechcombings

Richard Mabey’s Weeds and Beechcombings

by Jasper Sharp ~ 4 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Richard Mabey is one of Britain’s most compelling writers on our natural and not-so-natural environments and the botanical wonders to be found amongst them. He introduced a whole new generation to the joys of foraging with his breakthrough 1972 publication Food for Free, while his essential 1996 Flora Britannica was an ambitious attempt to exhaustively catalogue all the native and naturalised plants that grow within the British Isles.

What makes Mabey such a pleasurable and informative read is the affable yet authoritative first person voice he brings to his writing, Read more...

Scythe training

Scythe training

by Chris Colley ~ 31 July, 2017 ~ comments welcome

A May bank holiday Saturday, West Wales, and it was drizzling. Probably like most people I had preconceptions of scything as an activity performed by farm labourers in blazing sunshine, when the hay would dry best. Not the full Poldark maybe, but something similar. Like most preconceptions, it proved to be wrong in all important respects.

I had long hankered after developing two traditional skills: dry stone walling and scything. I met my needs for dry stone walling a few years ago, courtesy of the National Trust, but this May bank holiday was my opportunity to address the other. My particular need that encouraged me to move this year was planting 1300 willow and poplar as short rotation coppice, and the need to keep the grass down during year one.

Scythe Cymru, based at the Dyfed Permaculture Trust land in Penboyr, about 16 miles north west of Carmarthen run courses in scything, and sharpening and maintaining scythes, as well as providing a sharpening service used by scythe owners across the country. 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...

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