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emergent seedling

Trees, seeds and the Millennium Seed Bank.

by Chris ~ 2 December, 2016 ~ one comment

Plants are vital to all food chains, to our existence.  They provide foods (rice, wheat, peas, beans), building materials (timber), fibres for clothing (cotton), medicines (aspirin, quinine etc) and fuel (oils, biomass). However, habitats are being rapidly destroyed by activities such as agriculture, deforestation, road building and urban developments.  This habitat loss is happening rapidly and conserving plants within threatened habitats is not always possible.

Collecting seeds and preserving them ex situ (away from their natural habitat) offers a cost effective way to save seeds and keep them for posterity. Later, and if, required they can be germinated (hopefully) and reintroduced to the wild,  or used in scientific research.  The Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) - which is based at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, Read more...

The anatomy of a hedge

The anatomy of a hedge

by Lewis ~ 30 September, 2016 ~ 2 comments

A hedge or hedgerow is made up of a number of parts or habitats.   It may offer

  • the main bulk of the hedge - that is the trees and shrubs
  • the bottom or base of the hedge - which is a strip of land with its own species, a mix of annuals and perennials, some herbaceous others more woody.  The base of the hedge can be quite variable, sometimes being narrow and light, or wide and dark (perhaps, supporting a badger or rabbit run)
  • a bank that supports the hedge and there may even be an associated ditch (a different habitat in itself)
  • a border or verge - an area of adjacent land which may be arable, pastoral or man-made in nature e.g. highway or managed in some way - mowed, grazed or sprayed.

Read more...

blackthorn

Woodland types : scrub

by Chris ~ 21 October, 2015 ~ comments welcome

Scrub is not woodland per se, but it is often found where woodland starts or ends; or where woodland might develop (e.g. on an abandoned field).Scrub or scrubland is generally vegetation dominated by bushes / shrubs (e.g. blackthorn and hawthorn) with many stems, perhaps reaching to a height of 12 / 15 feet – so that some sort of canopy develops. Many scrub plants are pioneer species, which grow fast and can colonise open habitats quite rapidly.

Such pioneer species frequently produce large numbers of seeds (for example, bramble has lots of seeds in the attractive succulent fruits), which are often dispersed by birds (such as thrushes) or by wind – e.g. travellers joy / old man’s beard. Seeds generally germinate better in open grassland than in dense shade. Some scrub species (like blackthorn and gorse) have spines on their stems which are effective in deterring browsing animals (deer, sheep & rabbits) Read more...

Woodland types :Yew Woodland.

Woodland types :Yew Woodland.

by Chris ~ 17 September, 2015 ~ 2 comments

Yew woodland (in Southern England) tends to develop on the thin soils that form over chalk, often on the sides of dry valleys . They can be found along the North Downs, and in West Sussex on parts of the South Downs. Yew woodlands can also be found in the Cotswolds and in the Wye Valley (on limestone). In Ireland, there is a significant Yew wood near Killarney, again growing on top of limestone.

Yew woodland may develop from chalk grassland, when grazing by sheep or rabbits is removed. With no grazing, Juniper and / or Hawthorn start to grow.  Then, between these, shade-tolerant Yew seedlings begin to grow.   Eventually, the Yew will overtake the Juniper / Hawthorn, and shade them out. The dead remains of juniper and hawthorn sometimes may be seen on the floor of a Yew woodland. Read more...

British hedges ( in woodlands, gardens and farms)

British hedges ( in woodlands, gardens and farms)

by Angus ~ 12 October, 2012 ~ 4 comments

We British like our hedges - perhaps it's part of the British reserve, keeping people at arms' length, or maybe it's because they are very functional for keeping stock in fields and marking boundaries. For wildlife, hedgerows have long been important avenues of local migration and hedges represent their own distinct habitat.

The attitude of the authorities towards hedges has undergone a roller coaster ride over the last 50 years. In the 1970s, the government were paying grants for the removal of hedges with the objective of encouraging the creation of larger fields to make agriculture more efficient - these were bad times for conservation - Oliver Rackham describes these as "the locust years".  More recently grants have been available for planting hedges and their unauthorised removal in the countryside has become a criminal offence with the Hedgerow Regulations of 1997. Read more...

 My wood - part two

My wood – part two

by Matt M ~ 12 April, 2012 ~ Comments Off on My wood – part two

The second instalment to "my wood" has, like Spring,  this year - sprung rather too soon. I’ve been away for most of the last week starting work on a new area of woodland in Norfolk that I hope to be able to bring to market in the early summer. So after nearly a week of absence , I hurried across the field as the light rose on Saturday morning accompanied by Stig who seemed even happier than me, tail wagging frantically in the bitter frost.

Despite some savagely cold dawns, a couple of weeks of unseasonably warm weather has transformed the woodland.  It has been more of a boom than a Spring bloom this year. My hornbeam is in leaf, the hawthorn is in blossom, Read more...

Managing hedgerows.

Managing hedgerows.

by Chris ~ 2 January, 2012 ~ 4 comments

The importance of hedgerows in the maintenance of biodiversity cannot be over-emphasised.   Hedgerows provide vital food, in the form of a variety of berries - sloes, haws, blackberries etc,  for small mammals and birds (redwings, blackbirds) and hedgerow flowers support pollinating insects - a  variety of bees and butterflies.

However, the 'management' of hedgerows or trimming / flailing of a hedgerow can make a significant difference to its productivity - that is, the number of flowers and fruits produced. Read more...

National Tree Week 2011 - 26th November to 4th December

National Tree Week 2011 – 26th November to 4th December

by Richard ~ 27 November, 2011 ~ Comments Off on National Tree Week 2011 – 26th November to 4th December

The Tree Council’s annual tree weeks have been an undoubted success, emanating from the 1973  “Plant a tree in ’73” campaign (some rather cynical individuals chanted “cut it down in ’74”) and must have resulted in not only in promoting the whole idea of trees but in planting many thousands across the country in parks, gardens, roadsides, corners of farmland and development sites to name but a few.  The Tree Coucil ( http://www.treecouncil.org.uk) is our foremost campaigner and umbrella body for UK organisations involved in tree planting, care and conservation.

Forestry and woodlands are a long-term business but those of us planting in ’73 can see the fruits of our labours: we stand back and look up at the hornbeam, hazel, hawthorn and fieldmaple spreading wide and high;  the oak, ash, beech and birch are trees, a miraculous metamorphosis from those tiny whips planted during the cold winter months – it seems like yesterday.  We plant for the next generation but once established trees grow quickly so we can all enjoy watching them develop. Read more...

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