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“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...

Springtime at Beauchamp Woods

Springtime at Beauchamp Woods

by Alice ~ 29 June, 2020 ~ 5 comments

My parents and I have recently purchased a piece of woodland of about 3 acres, in Devon, called Beauchamp woods. It is a mixture of semi-natural ancient woodland, larch plantation and a clear-felled area. This is the perfect mixture for us. We wanted to give something back to nature by preserving a small piece of habitat for wildlife, whilst enjoying spending time in our woods. We are loving it and find it very rewarding.

I have some knowledge of woodland management and conservation through my education and work and it is great to have the opportunity to put this into practice. My main aim is to maximise biodiversity, I want it to be the best habitat for as many species as possible. Read more...

Oak, Ash and Thorn - new woodlands book by Peter Fiennes

Oak, Ash and Thorn – new woodlands book by Peter Fiennes

by Angus ~ 29 October, 2017 ~ one comment

Peter Fiennes immersed himself in British woodlands for a year and he dug out every literary reference to woodlands that he could and visited dozens of woodlands to appreciate their magic.  The result is an erudite and inspiring tome that is also a cry for help to preserve any ancient woodland that we haven't already destroyed. "Sell everything! Protect the land!" exclaims Peter.  He outlines a five-page action plan to protect British Woodlands which he also describes as a statement of the "bleeding obvious", including creation of more woods and visiting the woods more often.  When he joins one of the Woodland Trust's campaigns to protect an ancient woodland near Sheffield from development he becomes apoplectic: "An ancient wood for a service station.  What sort of sick exchange is that?" Read more...

Becky Speight, Woodland Trust chief, outlines her new vision

Becky Speight, Woodland Trust chief, outlines her new vision

by Angus ~ 9 July, 2015 ~ one comment

Visiting the Woodland Trust headquarters in Grantham, Lincolnshire, immediately gets you thinking of trees - it is surrounded by young silver birch trees and the walls are clad in wooden panels and even the reception desk is a sawlog that has been cut into planks for seasoning   The footprint of the building at Kempton Way is C-shaped, said to be in the shape of an unfurling fern enclosing a sheltered woodland garden.  Inside, about a hundred people, predominantly young, sit in open plan offices in front of their screens, avidly organising and tapping out the Woodland Trust message mostly fundraising or campaigning – the other staff are out in the field managing their estate of over 1000 woods or working with landowners.

We met the chief executive, Beccy Speight, who has been at the helm for a year and is clearly immensely capable and knows woodlands inside-out - her previous job was managing a chunk of the National Trust Read more...

“Connected woodlands”

“Connected woodlands”

by Lewis ~ 20 March, 2015 ~ one comment

In the early 1970’s, Professor Barry Commoner (Washington University) said that ‘the first law of ecology’ could be stated as “Everything is connected to everything else”. That is, there is one ecosystem for all living organisms and what affects one – affects all.

He was much concerned with the interactions of organisms, and the concept of sustainability. Traditionally, connectedness in ecology is concerned with how one organism affects another, or how an organism affects the environment or how a change in an environmental factor affects the organisms in the ecosystem. Read more...

Soil seed banks

Soil seed banks

by Chris ~ 23 May, 2014 ~ 5 comments

The soil seed bank refers to the various seeds that are ‘stored’ in the soil of most ecosystems.  Soil seed banks have always attracted interest because of the 'reservoir' of weed seeds in the soil and the economic implications of these.  However, more recently ecologists and conservationists have looked at the role of seed banks in woodland and forest regeneration; and it may be that they can play a role in the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.

Soil seeds may be placed in one of two broad categories

  • Transient species – where a seed only remains viable within the soil for a short period, perhaps only to the next opportunity for germination.  For most purposes, seeds that remain viable for a year fall into this category i.e. for one germination season.
  • Persistent species – seeds that can remain viable within the soil for a longer period of time.   Those that survive for between 1 and 5 years are termed short term persistent, whilst those that can remain viable for more than a year are termed long term persistent.

Read more...

Oliver Rackham and the woodland owner

Oliver Rackham and the woodland owner

by Hope ~ 19 December, 2013 ~ one comment

Oliver Rackham has been described as 'one of the really outstanding botanical writers of our times', his work being deemed 'seminal' and his books 'meticulously researched'. Rackham has raised huge amounts of awareness for the issues faced by woodlands and the importance of their conservation. In 1998, he was awarded the OBE for services to Nature Conservation, and so Rackham's principles are in line with our own of 'conservation and enjoyment'. He has reinforced respect for woodlands and so is a key figure to know about when owning your own. Read more...

Coppice and wood pasture.

Coppice and wood pasture.

by Lewis ~ 6 June, 2013 ~ comments welcome

pollardAfter the last Ice Age, plants, animals and humans moved back into the vast areas vacated by the retreating ice.  Plant, and then, animal communities became established and much of the area was covered by what has been termed ‘wildwood’ – see previous Wildwood blogs.  These areas would also have been home to human populations migrating from the hinterland of Europe and Doggerland.  Communities developed and we may suppose that areas of forest/woodland/wild wood would have been cleared - for housing, the grazing of animals, to provide firewood/timber.  Such forest / woodland would have been managed to a greater or lesser degree. Read more...

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