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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…

Announcing the Woodlands Awards 2017

Announcing the Woodlands Awards 2017

by Antony Mason ~ 6 April, 2017 ~ comments welcome

This year, woodlands.co.uk is launching and sponsoring a brand new set of Woodlands Awards. They are a celebration of all the hard work, skills, expert knowledge, initiative, innovation and dedication that are applied to woodland up and down the country day after day, year after year – and which so often go unsung.

There are 14 awards altogether, divided into two groups: awards for individuals (woodland owners and users) and awards for enterprises (woodland organisations, businesses, educational programmes and so on). Essentially we are looking for the best examples in each category, so they can be rewarded with recognition and a prize. Read more…

A threat to bluebells ?

A threat to bluebells ?

by Chris ~ 3 April, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Spring brings a variety of blue flowered plants such as bluebells, hyacinths and squills in our woodlands, parks and gardens.  Bluebells are ‘easily’ recognisable. However, there are different types of bluebells. The bluebell that is native to the UK has the Latin or Linnaean name of Hyacinthoides non scripta.  The Spanish bluebell (H. hispanica) is also to be found, and this hybridises with the native form,  giving rise to intermediate types.

The native bluebell has deep blue and scented flowers that hang from an elegantly arching stem. It is found in abundance in many deciduous woodlands and hedgerows across the UK, though it is unusual or rarer in parts of East Anglia and Scotland.  The capacity of the Spanish Bluebell to hybridise with the native form has been seen as a threat to the native Bluebell – but now another concern has been ‘identified’. Read more…

Rehoming red squirrels

Rehoming red squirrels

by Chris ~ 31 March, 2017 ~ comments welcome

There are a number of established red squirrel populations in Scotland, and there are other suitable forested areas where they could live.  However, they are unlikely to make their way to forested areas near Kinlochewe and Plockton because they avoid crossing large areas of open ground (habitat fragmentation ?, need for wildlife corridors), and travel between trees.   Consequently, the charity “Trees for Life” has developed The Red Squirrel Reintroduction project.   Their aim is to establish ten ‘new’ populations in the north west Highlands – in order to increase the number and the range of the red squirrel. Read more…

A tale of two saws

A tale of two saws

by Nick Reckert ~ 24 March, 2017 ~ 4 comments

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 ~ 3 comments

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…

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