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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...

Sequoias threatened

Sequoias threatened

by Lewis ~ 21 February, 2020 ~ comments welcome

There is only one living member of the genus Sequoia,   Sequoia sempervirens : the coast redwood.  It is a coniferous trees and belongs to the family Cupressaceae. The redwoods (Sequoia sp) are amongst the largest and oldest living organisms on the planet – some are possibly more than three millennia old. The trees are found along the coastal regions of California and Oregon. 

Whilst the trees can live to a great age, recent studies have found that the trees are suffering as a result of beetle attack, prolonged drought and and fire damage.  Several of the long lived trees in the Sierra Nevada of California have died in recent years as a result of these ‘problems’.  It had been thought that such trees could survive fire or beetle attack Read more...

Unusual or exotic trees : the Olive Tree.

Unusual or exotic trees : the Olive Tree.

by Lewis ~ 14 February, 2020 ~ one comment

The olive tree [Olea europaea] , is an evergreen tree native to the mediterranean area.  Indeed, it is often cited as an ‘indicator plant’ for the area. It is of major agricultural importance throughout the mediterranean basin as it is the source of olive oil. 

Generally, the outline of the tree is somewhat short and squat, its height varies between 8 –15 M. The oblong/spear-shaped leaves are silvery green; the upper surface is green, whereas the lower surface is more silvery. The leaves measure between 4–10 cm in length and are between 1–3 cm in width. Olive trees can be very long lived and, as the tree ages, the trunk frequently becomes gnarled and twisted.  The tree produces small, white, ‘feathery’ flowers on the previous year's growth. Read more...

Earth, wind and fire - now rain and hail.

Earth, wind and fire – now rain and hail.

by Chris ~ 7 February, 2020 ~ 2 comments

Australia has experienced some of the most dramatic effects of climate change - with the unprecedented burning of vast areas of its countryside (see previous blogs).  Recently, the weather turned to another extreme - thunderstorms, hailstorms and rain.  Large hailstones (the size of golf balls or bigger) have bombarded cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, damaging roofs, cars, trees, and infrastructure.  Flash flooding has occurred in some places due to heavy rain, plus there have been high winds and dust storms.

Whilst rain has been welcomed in that it has helped to ‘damp down’ some of the fires that have been raging, the intensity of the rain is not without problems in places. Heavy rainfall can result in further damage to ecosystems. Read more...

February’s Fungi Focus: Tripe fungus (Auricularia mesenterica)

February’s Fungi Focus: Tripe fungus (Auricularia mesenterica)

by Jasper Sharp ~ 1 February, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Brackets, crusts and jellies are the most commonly found fungi in the winter months, as I mentioned in my last post on the various species referred to as Witches’ Butter. These categories are essentially descriptive ones, however, aimed at helping one negotiate ones way to the correct pages in general field guides, rather than relating to particular family groupings and relationships based on more scientific principles.

One might find countless instances where the dividing line between a particular specimen is not particularly clear. Crusts, or resupinate fungi, often grow as brackets, for example, if the fallen trunk or log they are growing from them is oriented in a particular direction, and a good number possess fruitbodies with a gelatinous texture. 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...

Climate change, forest fragmentation, fire and disease

Climate change, forest fragmentation, fire and disease

by Chris ~ 17 January, 2020 ~ 2 comments

The Earth is warming as a result of the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, leading to a period of rapid and significant climate change, which is seen as an existential threat to humanity by many. It is possible that the tipping point has been reached, where the effects of global warming, such as the loss of polar ice sheets, are unstoppable.  The most dire ‘predictions’ think that cities, industries, countries, and perhaps our species will be lost.

Climate change is not new and variations in the patterns of weather have provoked the collapse of regimes and cultures throughout recorded history. Social and economic constructs have unravelled and  populations have declined. Read more...

RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch : 2020

RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch : 2020

by Chris ~ 14 January, 2020 ~ comments welcome

This year the weekend of 25th - 27th January, sees the return of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. If you would like to take part, you need to put aside an hour at any time over the three days and count the birds visiting your garden or a local park.  

If you go to the  www.rspb.org.uk website, you can ‘sign up’ which will unlock exclusive Birdwatch Extra features. Read more...

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