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Białowieża- “a national treasure for Poland and an international treasure for us all”

by Lewis ~ 19 March, 2017 ~ one comment

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...

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...

Woodlands, climate and robustness.

Woodlands, climate and robustness.

by Lewis ~ 13 January, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Climate change is a fact, though not one always accepted by certain politicians.   Greenhouse gas emissions have been growing since the C18th, and particularly in the period 1970 - 2004.   The warming of the world climate system is certain; air and ocean temperatures have increased.  

Though we cannot say how climate will change in any specific area with certainty, we can be sure that extreme weather events will become more common - droughts, heat waves, heavy rainfall, high winds and cyclones. Read more...

Hedgerow loss.

Hedgerow loss.

by Lewis ~ 28 October, 2016 ~ 4 comments

Much has been written about the loss of hedges / hedgerows over the last fifty to seventy years; one important work was   “Hedges(1974) in the New Naturalist Series by Pollard, Hooper and Moore.  They suggested that hedgerows were lost perhaps at a rate of some 3,000 miles per year in the immediate post-war period (1946 - 63).   In the 1950’s, the Forestry Commission suggested that there was one million kilometres of hedgerow (in the U.K).   In 2007, The Countryside Commission Survey estimated that there was some 477,00 kilometres of hedgerow -  suggesting that there had been a halving of hedgerows in the countryside.  Read more...

Spraying - herbicide and pesticide application

Spraying – herbicide and pesticide application

by Chris Langford ~ 14 January, 2016 ~ comments welcome

I recently undertook a Knapsack Sprayer PA1 and PA6a (NPTC) 2 day course. The course is aimed at anyone using, or purchasing pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and applying them with a knapsack sprayer on land. The courses cover the correct preparation of equipment as well as its maintenance, safe operation and calibration. The course was broken down into the following sections:- Read more...

Biotic homogenization

Biotic homogenization

by Lewis ~ 30 December, 2015 ~ comments welcome

Biotic homogenization has been defined as follows "the process by which species invasions and extinctions increase the genetic, taxonomic or functional similarity of two or more locations over a specified time interval. Biotic homogenization is now considered a distinct facet of the broader biodiversity crisis having significant ecological, evolutionary and social consequences."   Basically, it refers to an increasing similarity in the make-up of the plant communities found in different places - a bit like High Streets, each of which used to have a special character or 'signature', now it is difficult to distinguish one from another.

In many cases,  biotic homogenization involves the replacement of local floras and faunas with 'introduced species', sometimes referred to as aliens.   Examples of plants that have been introduced and spread are himalayan balsam and japanese knotweed.   Read more...

Changing moth populations.

Changing moth populations.

by Lewis ~ 5 November, 2015 ~ one comment

Many of the 'headlines' in newspapers etc.  speak about the loss of particular species (e.g. elephants, rhinos) and whilst these are important animals and the reduction in number of any species is a cause for concern, they are not necessarily good indicators of the threats to the millions of species that seemingly pass unnoticed.   In terms of sheer abundance and, indeed,  diversity of form - the arthropods, and particularly the insects are unsurpassed.

In order to know what is happening to our wildlife in general, it is a good idea to take a close look at what is happening to insect populations / species.   Fortunately, this is possible as since Victorian times Read more...

Beware the Giant Hogweed

Beware the Giant Hogweed

by Chris ~ 9 February, 2015 ~ 4 comments

The giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) belongs to the same family as the wild parsnip – the Apiaceae. It is sometimes referred to as the giant cow parsnip, or the giant cow parsley or the cartwheel flower. Like the Himalayan Balsam, the giant hogweed is an introduced plant (it comes from the Caucasus and Central Asia). It arrived in the U.K. in Victorian times, being used as an ‘ornamental plant’ – perhaps to add ‘architectural interest’ to gardens.

By the late Nineteenth Century, the Giant Hogweed had spread from the gardens where it had been cultivated, and was to be found ‘wild’.   It is now to be found across most parts of England, and is found on verges, hedges and rough ground. Like the Himalayan Balsam, it is associated with rivers and river banks. The Giant Hogweed spreads by seed, and is dispersed by wind and water (swept along in streams and rivers). Read more...

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