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Lost or ghost ponds

Lost or ghost ponds

by Lewis ~ 18 December, 2020 ~ one comment

The 1950’s and 60’s saw the destruction of many hedgerows, particularly in farming areas like East Anglia.  The logic behind this was to increase field size and allow ease of access of machinery, like large combine harvesters that were coming available at that time.  The loss of the hedgerows and their associated wildlife is quite well documented, but the loss of ponds that occurred in and around this time has not attracted much attention.  

Many hundred of ponds were filled in (often using the debris and material from the destruction of the hedgerows), giving a few more metres of arable land.  The position of these ponds can sometimes be found on old ordnance survey maps.  Ponds across Norfolk have suffered from neglect or have been filled in,  over the last 50 -70 years.  Many are located on farmland and their origins may extend back centuries when they were created as marl or clay pits, sometimes for the watering of livestock; they are sometimes referred to as the lost or 'ghost' ponds..  Some were formed in depressions (pingos) left after the last age. Read more...

woodlands web updates (1)

woodlands web updates (1)

by blogs at woodlands ~ 15 December, 2020 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands blog has reported on the anthropocene - how human activity is creating a geological era characterised by human impact on the Earth.  Now a report finds that human-made (artificial) material will this year surpass the sum total of all living material (biomass) on earth.


A Swedish study has shown that crop yield can be enhanced  by ensuring that woodland and grassland areas are present in the vicinity of crop fields.    If the landscape is more diverse in terms of plants and habitats, then the number of pollinators (bees snd bumblebees) is greater.   Read more...

December’s Fungi Focus: Turkey Tails and False Turkey Tails

December’s Fungi Focus: Turkey Tails and False Turkey Tails

by Jasper Sharp ~ 10 December, 2020 ~ 2 comments

While the winter woodlands are now largely bereft of the colourful cornucopia of mushrooms we’ve been seeing over the past few months, bracket fungi abound. It only seems fitting, then, to add a seasonal twist to this month’s fungi focus and take a look at one of our most commonplace and picturesque examples, the Turkey Tail (or Turkeytail), as well as one of its closest lookalikes.   Turkey Tails are very much a fixture of woodlands across Britain, and indeed are widespread throughout much of the world. This catchy common name, which succinctly describes the colours and forms of its variegated fan-shaped shelves, seems to have crept over from America fairly recently. Previously it was known over here by the rather more prosaic yet equally descriptive name of the Many-Zoned Polypore, a fair rendition of its Latin binomial Trametes versicolor.  Read more...

Small Woodland Ownership - A Positive Experience

Small Woodland Ownership – A Positive Experience

by Will Richardson, B.Sc, M.Sc, MICFor. ~ 10 December, 2020 ~ comments welcome

As a chartered forester and one who believes in the responsible management of woodlands for multiple objectives, it was an educational exercise for me to survey and write reports for owners of small “PAWS  (Planted Ancient Woodland Sites) woodlands” in North Yorkshire sold by woodlands.co.uk and their Northern England team. The survey work was funded by the Woodland Trusts Outreach Department and is primarily concerned with improving the condition and resilience of Planted Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) and Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland (ASNW) through ancient woodland restoration processes. 

I had the pleasure of meeting a number of different owners across some 13 hectares of mature pine plantation woodland in the Vale of York. The woodlands themselves are an oasis in an intensively farmed landscape. All of the owners I met have the primary objectives of enjoying their woodlands for amenity and personal recreation and looking after them for their nature conservation value. Some had a great deal  of knowledge of woodlands and woodland management , whereas others were starting from a blank canvas but all had a passion for woodlands.  Read more...

Trees :  in town and country

Trees : in town and country

by Lewis ~ 4 December, 2020 ~ comments welcome

During the last Ice Age, much of the UK was covered with a layer of ice up to kilometre deep, or by enormous glacial lakes. Certainly in northern parts, there was no vegetation as glaciers scraped their way across the landscape.  So much water was locked up in the glaciers that sea levels dropped dramatically; we were connected to Europe by areas such as Doggerland.  Details of the glaciation and its effect can be found on the BRITICE site.  When the ice age came to an end some eleven thousand years ago, plants, animals and humans migrated back to the previously frozen and inhospitable land.  Over time, large forests and woodland areas developed.  In the North, boreal forest grew up - represented today by the remaining Caledonian Forest.  Further south, there was the wildwood (as described by Rackham and others). The wildwood was probably a complex and tangled mixture of different trees, with many of the trees either dead or dying through the effects of wind, fire (lightning strikes) and flooding. It would have offered a vast variety of habitats and niches for plants, insects and mammals. Read more...

Japanese Knotweed

von Siebold and the Japanese Knotweed

by Chris ~ 27 November, 2020 ~ one comment

Philipp Franz von Siebold was a nineteenth century German doctor and botanist, who worked for several years in Japan, accumulating an extensive collection of plants and animals from that area.  He was responsible for the introduction of  a number of (now common) garden plants to Europe - such Hostas and Hydrangea. Siebold is almost unknown outside Japan except among gardeners as many plants incorporate sieboldii and sieboldiana in their specific names - for example, species of Primula, cherry (Prunus), Sedum and Viburnum.  Siebold was also associated with the introduction of tea cultivation to Java.  On his return to Europe, he was based in Leiden where he worked on cataloguing and identifying his twelve thousand botanical specimens.  

Unfortunately, one of the plants that Siebold introduced was the Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica, syn. Fallopia japonica). This has become a highly invasive weed in Europe and North America. The plant was discovered growing on the side of a volcano; it was named as the “most interesting new ornamental plant of the year” by the Society of Agriculture and Horticulture in Utrecht. Read more...

Bark : damage

Bark : damage

by Chris ~ 20 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Wind, fire and frost can seriously damage or kill trees.   Animals also wound them when they feed on bark tissues, and when they rub their bodies or antlers against tree trunks. Insects, like bark beetles can cause significant damage damage to woodlands and forests.

The extent of damage to trunks and the bark of trees varies considerably in relation to the nature of the ‘attack’.  If the damage to the bark is severe and the vascular cambium is exposed then neither new water nor sugar conducting tissue can be formed.  Damage to the (outer) cork cambium (phellogen) will limit the trees ability to form the outer tissues of the bark - which protect the tree.  If the damage is restricted to the outermost bark layer then this will render the tree more susceptible to further damage (be it from herbivores or temperature extremes). Read more...

upland stream

“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...

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