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"tropical nights' and greening our cities

“tropical nights’ and greening our cities

by blogs at woodlands ~ 3 April, 2021 ~ comments welcome

Much of England experienced a series of ‘tropical nights’ last summer, when night time temperatures were 20oC or above.  These tropical nights were associated with the heat wave that affected most of south east England.  Central London experienced its longest stretch of extreme daytime temperatures since the 1960’s -  temperatures of 30+oC were recorded on six consecutive days.  A number of experts have said that such heatwaves and associated tropical nights are likely to become more common as a consequence of climate change.  

We were not alone in experiencing high temperatures by day and night, much of western Europe  sweltered in the heat this August. The problem was most marked in urban areas and large cities.  Some three-quarters of the population of Europe now live in urban areas. Extreme heat affects our health causing general discomfort, malaise, respiratory problems, headaches, heat stroke, heat cramps and heat-related mortality.  Read more...

Greenhouse Gases, Goats Willow and sheep.

Greenhouse Gases, Goats Willow and sheep.

by blogs at woodlands ~ 19 February, 2021 ~ 5 comments

Recent times have seen a recognition that livestock farming contributes to global warming.  Ruminants such as cows, sheep and goats produce methane as a by-product of their digestion, not only that but their urine can release nitrous oxide - another potent greenhouse gas.  It has been suggested that farming might account for some 10% of UK emissions.

However, some new research (published this January) conducted by Professor Chris Stoate (of The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) suggests that there might be a way of mitigating these emissions by changing the diet of certain ruminants slightly. Read more...

Can woodlands and forests ‘overcome’ drought?

Can woodlands and forests ‘overcome’ drought?

by blogs at woodlands ~ 5 February, 2021 ~ comments welcome

One particular concern of continued climate change and global warming is drought.  Not only will drought affect people but also plants. Droughts can inhibit the growth of trees, or kill them.  Over time, they can change the species make up of woodlands and forests.   If woodlands and forests experience drought then this will seriously impact their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - they act as carbon sinks and help mitigate climate change.

Recently Tom Ovenden et al from Stirling University and Forest research at Roslin have focused on the effects of climate on Scots Pine.  Scots Pine is a widely distributed tree across Europe and often planted for its timber.  It is a ‘favourite’ with red squirrels.  The research team examined the trees in a pine forest that was planted (near Inverness) back in 1935.  They examined tree rings from trees from high and low density stands.  A ring forms each year and the width of the ring is a measure of the growth the tree has achieved in a particular year.  Wide rings indicating substantial growth.  The width of the rings was then correlated with climate records.  The rings formed in ‘drought years’ was compared to growth in average (non drought) years, and to the rings formed in ‘post drought’ years. Read more...

Woodlands web updates (2)

Woodlands web updates (2)

by blogs at woodlands ~ 3 January, 2021 ~ 2 comments

Holly and ivy have seasonal connotations, and due to climate change they are probably looking quite lush and vigorous at present.  Studies have shown that in recent times, holly has spread further north in Europe than ever before - ‘pushing forward’ by some eighty miles since the 1960’s.  Ivy too is on the move, growing vigourously.  However with both plants, their growth can come as a threat to other woodland species, smothering some (Ivy can grow to great heights using its tiny adventitious roots) or when growing horizontally it can affect the herb layer.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/dec/16/plantwatch-holly-ivy-and-how-warmer-weather-boosts-christmas-plants

railway line equals a biological corridor

Rewilding Britain’s report : connectivity and biological corridors.

by blogs at woodlands ~ 28 December, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Sadly, the number and range of various species in the U.K. is decreasing, biodiversity is falling. Our wildlife-rich areas are actually separated and fragmented, by tracts of intensively-farmed land, by motorways and roads,  and the ever increasing spread of urban areas. The dispersion and isolation of wildlife areas makes it difficult for both plant and animal species to move.  The ability to move around is ever more important as a result of climate change.   Rainfall patterns and average temperatures in different regions are changing, extreme weather events are more common.  For a species to stay in its  ‘comfort zone’, it may need to move ‘northwards’ as climate change continues.   

According to a report released by Rewilding Britain, the speed at which species need to migrate in order to stay in their ‘comfort zone’ is approximately some 5km / year Read more...

veteran tree

Forests and woodlands – absorbing carbon dioxide?

by Lewis ~ 4 September, 2020 ~ one comment

Forests and woodlands are important in the global ecosystem; they have taken up some 20 to 30% of the carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels in recent times. It had been assumed that the dense and biodiverse tropical forest ecosystems (close to the equator) were particularly effective in soaking up this carbon dioxide’.   However, there is doubt that this will continue to be the case as forests shrink in size.  Plus, recent work at the University of Birmingham (Dr Tom Pugh) has shown that where forests were re-growing,  they took up large amounts of carbon partly because more carbon dioxide was available,  but also as a result of the younger age of the trees. This youthful carbon uptake was not associated with tropical areas, but with regenerating forests of more temperate regions. Read more...

dry, cracked soil

Trees and water stress.

by Chris ~ 29 August, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Whilst it is not possible to attribute a particular weather event to climate change alone, what is clear is that climate change / global warming intensifies certain meteorological events. High temperatures and reduced rainfall have lead to the extreme fires seen recently in Australia and on the pacific coast of America.  Floods and periods of drought are now more common and the last two decades have seen some of the warmest years on record - in the U.K. .  Whilst too much water can result in the death of trees and plants as the soil becomes water-logged - so oxygen cannot reach the root -  drought also stresses trees and other plants.

Drought-induced death of trees is associated with the failure of the water transporting system (xylem), but the process is poorly understood. Tree, indeed plant survival, is dependent on a continuous supply of water to the leaves. Read more...

UK wildlife, gaining ground but losing numbers ?

UK wildlife, gaining ground but losing numbers ?

by Chris ~ 22 May, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Nearly every report that one comes across says that many plant and animal species are under threat.   The causes are many but may be broadly summarised as 

  • Fragmentation, loss or destruction of natural habitats (as a result of intensive and extending agriculture, roadways, railways etc)
  • Pesticides and pollution (e.g. neonicotinoids, eutrophication as a result of fertiliser use)
  • Impacts of climate change

Some of the changes are more obvious in every day terms than others, for example, the drop in insect numbers is revealed by the car windscreen ‘test’ : the splatometer.   A survey of insects hitting car windscreens in rural parts of Denmark [using data collected between 1997 to 2017] found a decline of some  80%. There was a similar decline in the number of swallows and martins, (they depend on insects for their food). Read more...

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