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Woodlands.co.uk - March 2012

Spruce - an ice age survivor ?

Spruce – an ice age survivor ?

by Chris ~ 30 March, 2012 ~ Comments Off on Spruce – an ice age survivor ?

There have been many ice ages in the history of the Earth; but the last, which covered vast tracks of the Northern Hemisphere, came to an end some nine to ten thousand years ago – when the temperature (and sea level) rose.  It has always been assumed that no trees survived in the regions covered by the thick ice sheet, and that trees (like other plants) have returned to areas like Scandinavia by the gradual northern migration of species that had taken ‘sanctuary’ in warmer latitudes.

However, recently work has been undertaken by

Creating a woodland pond and encouraging pond life.

Creating a woodland pond and encouraging pond life.

by Angus ~ 27 March, 2012 ~ 3 comments

Pond building in woodland is more than just digging a big hole.   It is very much about creating a habitat, which is varied but which actually keeps the water in.  Over the last month or so, we have been digging a large wildlife pond in Kent not only for wildlife but also for enjoyment. We wanted an expanse of water that would be big enough for some canoeing and paddling around in small boats.

To do the job, we employed a pair of digger drivers with their machines but we were very much involved in the design and practicalities.  I knew several people who had dug ponds and lakes but in this case I particularly wanted something with an island; hoping that this could be a protected area for bird nesting - as well as an interesting feature. Read more...

My Wood

My Wood

by Matt Marples ~ 22 March, 2012 ~ 9 comments

Some of you may know me as I’m the Regional agent for East Anglia. I own my own wood and wanted to share with you my wood over the year. I’m often asked by owners on what commitment in terms of work a wood entails. This will depend on the woodland and your needs and aspirations. However, I thought it might be useful to give a regular update on my own woodland.

I’m blessed with the best wood in the world or that’s what I think. It’s my wood.   It’s called Snipes wood after one of my old dogs and it is 150 metres from my back door and surprisingly despite spending my working life in woodland - I love every moment I spend in it yet do very little work with it. First thing every morning I walk around the wood with “Stig “the dog and love seeing the sun rise as I head back for home.


The harlequin ladybird

The harlequin ladybird

by Chris ~ 18 March, 2012 ~ one comment

Some six years ago, there was a post about the harlequin ladybird  (Harmonium axyridis)– aka Multicoloured Asian Ladybird and the Halloween Ladybird - a ‘newcomer’ to these isles, and which might prove to be a threat to the native species.  The harlequin ladybird in an Asian species that has been used for pest control (aphids etc).  All ladybirds are beetles.  They belong to the order – Coleoptera – and are characterized by having forewings modified as hard wing covers or ELYTRA and biting mouthparts (cf. butterflies and moths).

Now some years later, research by scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have evidence of strong link between the arrival of the harlequin ladybird and the decline in other species of ladybirds.  Seven out of the eight native british species have declined – with some now described as being ‘near the threshold of detection’; similar issues have arisen in Belgium and Switzerland where the harlequin ladybird is also present. Read more...

Hockney, trees and woodlands.

Hockney, trees and woodlands.

by Margaret ~ 16 March, 2012 ~ one comment

Walking into the David Hockney exhibition at the RA was akin to entering a forest. Like stately trees, the paintings towered above my head, and cohorts of them rallied behind, receding far into the distance. This is not a showing of a series of individual paintings so much as one continuous stream of creative art.  With a lifetime’s experience of recording visual images of the world around him, David Hockney has spent the past few years creating a composite image  of the Yorkshire landscape.

A great part of the countryside is covered in  trees and woodland. He catches the same scene at different seasons, showing not only the seasonal changes of buds breaking and leaves falling, but also the variations of light. These are so striking that it is sometimes hard to believe that he has sat in exactly the same place to paint them. Read more...

Invasion of the land : mosses, bryophytes and climate change.

Invasion of the land : mosses, bryophytes and climate change.

by Chris ~ 12 March, 2012 ~ 3 comments

Throughout the twentieth century, stations like that at Manua Loa have monitored the level of carbon dioxide in the air.  It is clear that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen from about from about 300 ppm in the 1960’s to nearly 400 ppm by 2010.

However, if we look back some 480 million years (to the Ordivician Period) the level of carbon dioxide was some sixteen times higher than the present level and the average global temperature was about 25 oC, that is, about 10 oC higher than today’s average.  So how and why has global temperature fallen ? Read more...

Painting woodlands and wildlife - landscape painting pioneers

Painting woodlands and wildlife – landscape painting pioneers

by Angus ~ 7 March, 2012 ~ 2 comments

Relatively recently I experienced "Painting Canada" which was an exhibition of seven landscape painting pioneers who were active in Canada in the 1920s. The paintings are an extraordinary glimpse into the wildness and wilderness of Canada at a time when humans had made very little damaging impact, but actually much of the beauty and wildness that they put onto canvas still exists today in many places.

The group of seven artists are sometimes known as the Algonquin School because they painted some of their best works in the Algonquin national park. They should really have been a group of eight artists except that the artist who most inspired them, Tom Thomson, went missing in a mysterious incident with a canoe by a lake, Read more...

Signal Crayfish

Signal Crayfish

by Lewis ~ 2 March, 2012 ~ 2 comments

Plants and animals from different parts of the world are being ‘mixed’ up as worldwide travel by train, boat and plane increases year by year.  The woodlands' blog has reported on a number of plants and animals that are regarded as ‘aliens’ or invasive species, for example, the 'killer shrimp'.  Sometimes the ‘concern’ proves to be unfounded, but the arrival of various pathogens can be problematical for 'native species'.

At some point back in the 1970’s, the North American signal crayfish arrived in the U.K.   Since that time it has spread through various river systems, particularly in South and South East England, at the rate of 2 km per year (approx.).   Its spread may have been assisted by damp fishing gear.  It would seem that the signal crayfish is out-competing the native white clawed crayfish (that is, native to Europe, including England, Wales and Ireland – but not Scotland). Read more...

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