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“The Scottish Uplands: how to revive a degraded landscape” a talk by Dr Helen Armstrong

by Angus ~ 14 November, 2020 ~ 2 comments

Checking through my emails, I came across a link sent by a friend to one of the winter talks in the program offered by the Botanical Society of Scotland - specifically The Scottish Uplands: how to revive a degraded landscapeby Dr Helen Armstrong.  The talk was live-streamed but was also recorded and is available here.  

Dr Armstrong spent 24 years at the Nature Conservancy Council, the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forest Research carrying out research and advisory work.


The following is an attempt to summarise some of the key features of her informative and enlightening talk. Read more...

AI technology harnessing the hoverflies.

AI technology harnessing the hoverflies.

by Lewis ~ 2 November, 2020 ~ 2 comments

The loss of pollinators, particularly honey bees, may bring about a synergy between pollinators such as hover flies and artificial intelligence technology.  Honey bees (and indeed bumblebee)s have been hit hard by habitat loss, pollution, the  extensive use of pesticides and the spread of viruses and varroa.  Bees provide an important ecosystem service, namely pollination.   bees provide the majority of plant pollination world-wide but the bees are fighting a losing battle and this represents a threat to food supplies.  In the United States, bee hives are 'bussed around' in a somewhat 'cavalier manner', indeed "Hives may be moved multiple times and several thousand miles per year" Read more...

Tree planting again .....

Tree planting again …..

by Angus ~ 23 October, 2020 ~ one comment

The woodland’s blog has reported on various tree planting initiatives, particularly that presented by the CCC (Committee on Climate change).  This Committee has called for some 1.5 billion new trees to be planted by 2050.   This would require approximately 30,000 hectares of land to be planted each year.  If this were to happen, it would increase Britain’s forest / woodland cover from 13% to 19%; probably the highest level since Roman times.  Sir Harry Studholme, the outgoing chairman of the Forestry Commission has said that such a target is achievable but has urged caution so that mistakes of the past are not repeated. 

Read more...

Buying a woodland through a SIPP - Self-Invested Personal Pension.

Buying a woodland through a SIPP – Self-Invested Personal Pension.

by blogs at woodlands ~ 30 September, 2020 ~ 6 comments

Buying a woodland through a SIPP

I thought it would be helpful to share my practical experience buying a Woodland through a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension).   This is definitely possible and reasonably straightforward once you understand the steps that need to be followed. There are however cost implications which make it much more expensive than buying with cash on hand. But it does mean you can use your pension funds and costs can mostly be covered using pension funds. Read more...

solar oven

Solar ovens and woodland cooking

by Angus ~ 21 August, 2020 ~ one comment

I couldn't get the gears on my bike to work so instead of going out I decided to make a cup of tea.  It may seem cumbersome but to make the tea I wheeled out my new solar oven, which is a large parabolic dish and once it's angled it towards the sun, its rays get concentrated onto the saucepan of water.  Actually as I write this, I'm drinking the tea made from water boiled by the said solar oven.  Like campfire tea it tastes especially nice - one enjoys it even more from knowing that it's made with renewable energy.

Our solar cooker only arrived last week and my son and I constructed it in about an hour.  The instructions were only in Chinese so some guesswork was involved and as with constructing IKEA furniture there were bits that had to be undone and turned around in the process.  We put together the six sections of the parabolic dish and then constructed the metal frame which goes on three wheels for moving it around easily. Read more...

PV Panels and Solar Farms boost wildlife

PV Panels and Solar Farms boost wildlife

by Angus ~ 18 July, 2020 ~ 3 comments

When we applied for permission to build a solar farm in West Sussex the planners initially worried about the impact on wildlife and insisted that we do surveys of the bats and newts, but in practice the solar panels, now installed there, have created a haven for wildlife.  

Several surprising facts struck me as I walked amongst the PV panels: Read more...

Greenwash - are the public being bamboozled?

Greenwash – are the public being bamboozled?

by Angus ~ 26 February, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Greenwashing is when a company spends more effort on saying how environmentally friendly they are rather than actually reducing the environmental damage they do.  Examples could include the recent claims made by Easyjet that they are already carbon neutral or the target by BP to become carbon neutral by 2050.  The Easyjet claim smells a bit like like fake news but at least they have pledged to spend £25 million over the next year on offsetting their carbon emissions - it's hard to see how even that can compensate for their 331 planes flying around the world 24/7.  BP's claim is easier to make because it's only a target for the year 2050 - "it's easy to write a cheque if you know it won't be cashed for 30 years" and, in any case, it's rather unlikely that the current board will be in place in 30 years' time.  So, putting aside these particular claims, why do big companies engage in such extravagant claims, and are they really just greenwash? Read more...

Unusual or exotic trees : Mesquite.

Unusual or exotic trees : Mesquite.

by Lewis ~ 24 January, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Mesquite is the name given to a number of leguminous shrubs or trees that belong to the genus Prosopis. Many of these plants are native to southern parts of the United  States and Mexico, though one species is native to South America - Argentina. Generally, they are plants of very dry (arid or xeric) regions.  They have the capacity to form very long, deep roots that seek water deep underground.

The trees / shrubs are deciduous and their leaves are pinnate (a compound form of leaf); they are also thorny.  The trees produce flowers through Spring and Summer, and the seeds (beans) form in pods.  The trees can be used as a source of timber (for furniture, and in the past ship building). Read more...

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