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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 ~ one comment

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...

Trees as indicators of erosion

Trees as indicators of erosion

by Chris Colley ~ 19 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We are all familiar with the idea of coastal erosion,  houses near the cliff edge or situated on sandy dunes fall away as the shore is battered by high tides and fierce  winds - this has been seen most recently at Hemsby in Norfolk; sometimes whole communities disappear into the sea (think Dunwich). Many areas of the East Anglian coast have been and are subject to the ravages of the sea. Read more...

Woodlands, meditation and 'being at one with nature'

Woodlands, meditation and ‘being at one with nature’

by Tamara Watters ~ 17 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We have had our woodland for just over a year and it has ben hugely exciting and a little overwhelming. Neither my husband or myself have the practical skills required for taking care of the woods. We are both more philosophical and reflective people. My vision is that our children and grandchildren and future generations will maintain and offer new creative projects in the woods. It is very much a far reaching vision, growing with time like the trees.  

My passion is our relationship with nature as an evolving conversation deepening our sense of connectivity and meaning. Nature has always been a healing resource and a spiritual solace for me.   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...

The Monthly Mushroom: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

The Monthly Mushroom: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

by Jasper ~ 11 April, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Looking for fungi in the wild is one thing, but if you really want to get to know your mushrooms, what better way than to grow your own? With growing kits for a good number of different varieties available from various shops or online sources, it is not quite the dauntingly complex process you might think (see final image below).

By far the easiest to cultivate at home are Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.), which thrive on a variety of substrates. Paul Stamets’ seminal Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (2005) contains photos of them thriving on straw, corncobs, human hair, wood chips, old clothing and even a straw-stuffed armchair.  The most common of the “exotic” types to start making their way into our supermarkets over the past couple of decades, the Oyster mushroom owes its name more to its shape than its delicate taste and texture. 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...

Woodlands and biodiversity

Woodlands and biodiversity

by Lewis ~ 29 March, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Most regard woodlands as a beautiful and important part of our countryside, and feel that they can exert a profound and positive influence on our emotional state.    Time spent wandering through the woods can have a relaxing and calming effect. Woodland only forms a small percentage of our countryside (about 13%), and some of that is dominated by conifers planted in the post-war period for timber production; however, the area covered by broad leaved trees is now increasing.    Despite this, our woodlands do harbour a wonderful variety of wildlife (think of the red squirrel, the nightingale, the dormouse) but there is concern that woodland plants and animals face a number of threats - many species are in decline.   Why is this ? Read more...

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