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Tree planting - is it always a good thing?

Tree planting – is it always a good thing?

by Lewis ~ 19 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

A number of initiatives both national and inter-national have focused on the possibility of large scale tree planting as a means of reducing the effects of climate change and keeping global warming below the critical 2oC threshold.  Indeed, some researchers have estimated that restoring and creating forests could reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by 25%, ‘sucking out’ some (extra) 200 gigatonnes of CO2 and locking it away in wood.  

However, there are problems with this approach.

    • Some estimates suggest that human activities have added a massive 600 gigatonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere over the millennia
    • Restoring or establishing forests is not a ‘simple matter’ of planting some trees (albeit millions of them); there are technical and financial challenges (see * below, for exmple).


painted lady butterfly

The big butterfly count : a painted lady year.

by Chris ~ 16 September, 2019 ~ one comment

The results of the Big Butterfly Count are in and have been analysed;  one of the most interesting observations is that the migratory butterfly - the painted lady - was here this summer in amazing numbers.  There were 30 times as many here this summer as compared to 2018; indeed nearly half a million were recorded across the U.K.   The last time such numbers were seen in the UK was some ten years ago - in 2009, and before that in 2003 and 1996.. 

Each year, successive generations of Painted Ladies move northwards from Africa to breed in central and northern Europe during the summer. Read more...

Horse chestnut update

Horse chestnut update

by Chris ~ 13 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands blog has reported on the problems facing the horse chestnut. Whilst not particularly a woodland tree in the U.K., horse chestnut trees were often planted by local authorities, in part because of their impressive appearance, particularly when in flower but also because of their low incidence of fungal disease and pests. However, it now seems that councils are having to remove many of these trees in order to protect people at risk of diseased branches (when they fall). For example, an avenue of horse chestnut trees planted in the 1930s at Avebury, Wiltshire, has had to be felled after becoming diseased.  The National Trust reported the trees had 'bleeding canker'.  Planting of horse chestnut trees has declined as the young trees quickly succumb to the activities of the leaf miner moth, the leaf blotch fungus and / or bleeding canker. Read more...

September’s Fungi Focus: Boletes and the Bolete Eater (Hypomyces chrysospermus)

September’s Fungi Focus: Boletes and the Bolete Eater (Hypomyces chrysospermus)

by Jasper Sharp ~ 9 September, 2019 ~ one comment

It wouldn’t be too bold to suggest that the main lure into the mystical world of mycology for many is the promise of finding something tasty to eat. However, my own reckoning is that a large proportion of would-be wild food gourmands soon move on to pastures new after discovering that the number of commonly found fungi that are actually edible, readily identifiable or even particularly tasty is relatively low. 

Moreover, as those who do know what they are looking for soon discover, you have to get out there pretty early and possess particularly keen eyes to stay ahead of the competition - be this from the new generation of food-for-free fanatics whose heads have been turned ground-wards over the past decade or so by TV foragers such as Ray Mears or Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, or from those members of the woodland ecosystem more reliant on the fruits of the forest, such as squirrels, slugs, grubs, bugs and, yes, even other fungi. Read more...

Forest and grassland fires

Forest and grassland fires

by Lewis ~ 6 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

In early Spring this year, both Norway and Sweden reported wild fires in their forests, due in part to a run of dry weather. More recently, fires have been reported in many parts of the world - particularly in the Amazonian Forest,  parts of Africa, Siberia,  Canada and even within the Arctic Circle.

A few years back, the Russian authorities initiated a policy of allowing remote forest fires to burn - unless the trees / areas were of economic importance.  However, the fires this summer affected thousands of square miles of boreal forest and strong winds spread the smoke and ash across the country; it affected cities such as Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk (each home to a million people). Read more...

Forests and woodlands in flux

Forests and woodlands in flux

by Chris ~ 28 August, 2019 ~ one comment

Twelve thousand years ago (during the late glacial maximum) massive ice sheets and glaciers extended across much of the world. Then, the climate began to warm and about ten thousand years ago, our landscape started to look very different from today - not just because there were no roads, towns or cities but because the newly exposed land was being colonised by plants, trees, animals – and lastly by people. 

The forests and woodlands that slowly developed in the post Ice Age period were different to the forests and woodlands that we see today. The land was colonised (at this time) by the plants and animals that lived on ‘the edge of the ice’. Read more...

The Big Picture Conference - bringing rewilding to life

The Big Picture Conference – bringing rewilding to life

by Lewis ~ 22 August, 2019 ~ 3 comments

The woodlands.co.uk blog has visited the topic of rewilding and reintroductions on a number of occasions; this Autumn will see a major conference in Stirling that will focus on that .   It is to be held at the University of Stirling on the 21st September - entitled The Big Picture Conference - bringing rewilding to life; further details can be accessed here.  A woodlands representative will attend the conference and report in due course.

Quite what is meant by rewilding often depends on who is speaking or writing about it.  Dave Foreman is generally accredited with the introduction of the term and his focus was on the large scale rebuilding of ecosystems (and particularly the role of top predators); these could then sustain themselves with little further human intervention. Read more...

Birds at Woodcock Wood: A Conundrum for the Summer

Birds at Woodcock Wood: A Conundrum for the Summer

by Chris Saunders ~ 16 August, 2019 ~ comments welcome

July and August can be difficult times to watch and appreciate woodland birds. With nesting coming to an end, there is little in the way of birds’ song, and the beginning of summer moult means that many birds prefer to hide away in dense foliage, not because of vanity but rather because they are at their most vulnerable to predation - their feathers are in poor condition during the moult, and their energy levels are lowered by the process. In spite of this, there is still plenty of interest to hear and see, but perhaps it takes a bit more time and effort than at other times of the year. Read more...

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