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Lignum Vitae - A wood so unique it was used in the first nuclear-powered submarines

Lignum Vitae – A wood so unique it was used in the first nuclear-powered submarines

by Oliver ~ 20 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Lignum Vitae, Latin for the ‘tree of life’, has a set of properties that cause a newfound awe in natural materials. Also known as Ironwood, it is the hardest and heaviest traded wood, being 3 to 4 times the hardness of English Oak. It was the alleged medicinal properties of Lignum Vitae which have earned it the title ‘tree of life’.  Sometimes brewed into a tea or as a herbal medicine; historically - it was used to treat symptoms of gout, arthritis and syphilis. Its properties / uses are still being explored. Read more...

UK government's 25 year plan - what does it mean for our trees and seas?

UK government’s 25 year plan – what does it mean for our trees and seas?

by Angus ~ 15 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Early in 2018 the government launched its 25 year environment plan which covers everything green that they could think of from water to waste, and from chemicals to climate change.  It's full of the usual good intentions mostly for far off dates when current politicians will either be drawing comfy pensions or themselves will have become integrated into the environment.  But it does have some specific plans for our woodlands and our oceans.

For forestry in England there is a specific tree-planting target which the Woodland Trust have been actively lobbying over many years - the plan aims to increase tree cover by 180,000 hectares before the end of 2042.  Read more...

Plants and pollutants

Plants and pollutants

by Lewis ~ 6 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

There are plants that we like, and some that we don’t.  In the latter category, there are weeds - the plants that grow in the ‘wrong places’.  The plants that we like include those that we eat (crops), those that we grow for timber, for pharmaceuticals or for aesthetics / pleasure.  However, we now can add other uses for certain plants - namely phytoremediation and phytomining.

Phytoremediation involves the use of plants to ‘extract’ heavy metals from contaminated land.  Land can become contaminated with potentially harmful metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, copper) due to mining activities.  Read more...

Payment for what . . ?

Payment for what . . ?

by Gabriel Hemery ~ 2 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation and lead author of the British Woodlands Survey 2017, provides some insights into the perceived murky world of payment for ecosystem services.

Some readers may be aware of the recent publication of a report for the British Woodlands Survey 2017 (BWS2017). Over the last two years I’ve led a collaborative group of researchers from Sylva Foundation, Forest Research, Woodland Trust, and Oxford University in seeking to gain deeper understanding of awareness, actions and aspirations among woodland owners and agents, forestry professionals, businesses, and others with a stake in the future of forestry in the UK. Read more...

What do woodland owners think about British Forestry?

What do woodland owners think about British Forestry?

by Angus ~ 16 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Gabriel Hemery of Sylva.org.uk is a researcher and entrepreneur in the British Woodlands sector.  He just announced the results of his British Woodlands Survey 2017 (BWS) where he asked hundreds of woodland owners how they see the future of their woods.  The survey covered 1.5 million acres of woodland - about a fifth of the UK wooded area and included forestry agents as well as 660 owners and looked at biodiversity, biosecurity, social attitudes and woodland creation.  The report is entitled, "Shaping the Future of Forestry".

Most striking was that the majority of owners and agents reported making a financial loss on their woodland over the last five years.  Read more...

Pine cones and innovation

Pine cones and innovation

by Lewis ~ 19 January, 2018 ~ 2 comments

A pine cone is a reproductive structure, known as a strobilus.  There are male and female pine cones.  The male pine cones (or microstrobili) are less obvious than the female pine cones; they have a central axis from which project modified leaves - or microsporophylls; these produce pollen.  Pine pollen is dispersed on the wind.

A female pine cone has a short stem, which attaches the cone to a branch, this continues through the central part of the cone (the rachis*).  Scales arise in a helical manner along the length of the rachis to form the cone, accounting for much of its structuree and its characteristic, external appearance. Each cone scale carries on its surface two ovules, which on fertilisation develop into seeds - these are pine nuts. The scales are also known ovuliferous scales or seed scales.  Pine cones take about two years to reach maturity. Read more...

Trees for Christmas.

Trees for Christmas.

by Lewis ~ 19 December, 2017 ~ 4 comments

Each year, a variety of conifers are sold as Christmas trees, for example, the

  • Norway Spruce Picea abies
  • Silver Fir Abies alba 
  • Nordmann Fir Abies normanniana
  • Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris

and in North America

  • Douglas Fir Pseudotuga menziesii  and
  • Balsam Fir Abies balsamea.

Read more...

"Action Oak" - should oak tree research be funded by DEFRA or by charity appeal?

“Action Oak” – should oak tree research be funded by DEFRA or by charity appeal?

by Angus ~ 31 October, 2017 ~ one comment

Oak trees are under threat through disease and climate change and it will cost serious money to research causes and solutions.  This could be paid for either through general taxation or by an appeal for charitable donations with help from high profile people such as celebrities and the Royal family.  The rate of required spending on oak disease is increasing.  It is proposed to set up an "Action Oak" charity appeal spearheaded by Woodland Heritage - an organisation based in Haslemere just 10 miles from the Forestry Commission's research arm at Alice Holt in Surrey.

Many people will wonder why the government isn't doing more directly through DEFRA Read more...

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