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Is Amazon’s packaging gobbling up our forests?

by Angus ~ 27 July, 2019 ~ one comment

Here at woodlands.co.uk, we’re not just interested in how our woodlands are protected and cared for. We also like to know how trees are being used for things like packaging - it occurred to us as yet another order from Amazon arrived with ample brown paper and plenty of space in the box, that the demand on trees from a company the size of Amazon would be very high indeed.  So we went to Amazon to ask some questions and we learned a lot more whilst visiting one of Amazon's 200 giant warehouses.  The one we visited on an industrial estate in Peterborough is big enough to cover 8 football pitches with a million square feet of space. Read more...

Changing phenologies and climate change

Changing phenologies and climate change

by Chris ~ 16 July, 2019 ~ one comment

Phenology is about the observation of natural events, recording when things happen, for example, when horse chestnut and ash trees come into leaf, or when the first swifts or bumblebees are seen. These timings vary from year to year. Through the recording of natural events over many years, one can look for trends and see if they are correlated with changes in the weather or other phenomena.

Recent studies by researchers at Rothampstead, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the British Trust for Ornithology suggest that a number of different phenologies are changing.   They looked at various insect and bird populations in a variety of different habitats (urban gardens, agricultural systems, sand dunes, grassland, woodlands etc).  The broad conclusion was there was a trend towards earlier phenologies for UK bird, moth and butterfly species across habitat types” . For example, aphids (which breed rapidly and can adapt to changing temperature quite quickly) now take flight some 30 days earlier in the year than fifty years ago.   Such phenological changes have ‘knock on’ effects.  For example, the earlier arrival of aphids can affect potato crops.  Aphids spread plant viruses and young potato plants are more susceptible to viral disease than older, more mature plants. Read more...

Planting trees – millions of them - part 2

Planting trees – millions of them – part 2

by Chris ~ 3 July, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Woodlands and forests can help to slow global warming and associated climate change (which results in extreme heat, drought, floods and famine /poverty).  Trees release water through transpiration into the atmosphere and ‘encourage’ rainfall.  Trees also help to reduce air pollution, they provide habitats for wildlife and economic benefits in terms of employment for local people. 

Governments across the globe are finally realising the potential of “natural solutions to climate change, namely reforestation and ecological restoration of habitats – both  of which allow for carbon sequestration - ‘locking up carbon into organic form’. It has been estimated that such natural solutions could go a long way towards stabilising global heating below the critical 2oC threshold Read more...

Planting trees - millions of them

Planting trees – millions of them

by Chris ~ 17 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Following the First World War, the UK’s woodland coverage was at an all time low – just 5 per cent of total land area. The Acland Committee reported to then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that state organisation would be the most effective way to bring about re-afforestation of the UK and plan for the future of British woodland.  

As a result, the Forestry Commission was set up and, throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, it voraciously bought up land.  The aim of the Forestry Commission was to ensure that there would be a strategic reserve of timber, so, as it acquired land, it began to plant - mainly with conifers .

Low grade’ lands (those that were less in demand for agriculture) were pressed into service such as areas around Thetford Chase and Kielder, as were some sandy coastal sites (e.g. Holkham in Norfolk Read more...

Trees, woodlands and methane

Trees, woodlands and methane

by Chris ~ 12 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Methane might be a clean fossil fuel when in a pipeline but it is second only to carbon dioxide in terms of contributing to global warming, when present in the atmosphere.  Over the last two centuries, the level of methane in the atmosphere has increased dramatically (and now stands at approximately 1800 parts per billion). Much of this increase has been linked to certain agricultural practices (farming of cattle and other ruminants, paddy fields) plus the emissions from decomposing landfill etc. 

However, recent work in a number of forested and woodland areas (for example, The Amazon, Borneo, China, Hungary etc) has suggested that the release of methane by trees is significant, and given that methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas - this has to be considered in relation to climate change.  The methane contribution from  trees has not really been considered when working out the global methane budget but it now seems that they make a contribution.   Read more...

Expanding access to nature - allotments and woodlands

Expanding access to nature – allotments and woodlands

by Angus ~ 25 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Both allotments and small woodlands bring owners closer to nature and lead to personal fulfilment.  Whilst the number of woodland owners is increasing rapidly we wanted to explore why the number of allotment owners isn't increasing.  So Erica Douglas* of woodlands.co.uk undertook a study of the history of allotment ownership and how the numbers of allotments couhld be increased.  She found that allotment expansion is very constrained by the ability of local authorities to find suitable land and that, if anything, many existing allotments are under threat of being closed by the pressure on local councils to find new building land. Read more...

Plastics, pollution and soil

Plastics, pollution and soil

by Chris ~ 29 April, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Plastic mulch - white (though sometimes black) polyethylene strips, each about a meter wide, can occasionally be seen stretching across fields.  Crops grow through the slits or holes in the thin plastic sheeting. The sheets are used because they help to

  • conserve water, 
  • suppress weeds, 
  • reduce soil compaction
  • boost soil temperatures
  • reduce waste - by keeping ripening fruit off the soil

Read more...

21st March - The international day of forests

21st March – The international day of forests

by Lewis ~ 11 March, 2019 ~ comments welcome

For some years now, the United Nations has promoted an ‘international day of forests’.  Essentially, the day is a celebration of forests and woodlands; it seeks to raise awareness and importance of all types of woodland (large or small).  Woodlands and forests offer a wide range of ‘ecological services’ : Read more...

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