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"tropical nights' and greening our cities

“tropical nights’ and greening our cities

by blogs at woodlands ~ 3 April, 2021 ~ comments welcome

Much of England experienced a series of ‘tropical nights’ last summer, when night time temperatures were 20oC or above.  These tropical nights were associated with the heat wave that affected most of south east England.  Central London experienced its longest stretch of extreme daytime temperatures since the 1960’s -  temperatures of 30+oC were recorded on six consecutive days.  A number of experts have said that such heatwaves and associated tropical nights are likely to become more common as a consequence of climate change.  

We were not alone in experiencing high temperatures by day and night, much of western Europe  sweltered in the heat this August. The problem was most marked in urban areas and large cities.  Some three-quarters of the population of Europe now live in urban areas. Extreme heat affects our health causing general discomfort, malaise, respiratory problems, headaches, heat stroke, heat cramps and heat-related mortality.  Read more...

railway line equals a biological corridor

Rewilding Britain’s report : connectivity and biological corridors.

by blogs at woodlands ~ 28 December, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Sadly, the number and range of various species in the U.K. is decreasing, biodiversity is falling. Our wildlife-rich areas are actually separated and fragmented, by tracts of intensively-farmed land, by motorways and roads,  and the ever increasing spread of urban areas. The dispersion and isolation of wildlife areas makes it difficult for both plant and animal species to move.  The ability to move around is ever more important as a result of climate change.   Rainfall patterns and average temperatures in different regions are changing, extreme weather events are more common.  For a species to stay in its  ‘comfort zone’, it may need to move ‘northwards’ as climate change continues.   

According to a report released by Rewilding Britain, the speed at which species need to migrate in order to stay in their ‘comfort zone’ is approximately some 5km / year Read more...

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...

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...

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...

mowed roadside verge

‘Verging on the ridiculous?’

by Chris ~ 5 September, 2020 ~ one comment

It is clear that wildlife is in decline, not just in the U.K, but across Europe, America - in fact wherever you look. Over the last century, over 90% of meadows have been lost in the U.K.   This decline in natural habitats / ecosystems is largely due to urban growth and the expansion & intensification of agriculture.  Concomitant with the loss of natural habitats is the loss of wildlife.  One particular cause for concern is the ‘disappearance’ or decline in numbers of some many insect species, especially pollinators.  The woodlands blog has reported many times on honeybee and bumblebee numbers.`   Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies or hoverflies,  need to find food (nectar & pollen), plants on which their larvae can feed, sites for nesting, reproduction and over-wintering.

With the growth of cities and agriculture there has been an expansion of transport networks, particularly roads. There are more than 30,000 miles of major roads in UK in 2019, with some 2,300+ miles of that being motorways.   Roads clearly have a number of ecological impacts (dividing up the landscape being one) but they also offer ‘habitats’ alongside the road. 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...

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