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The onward march of the bark beetles

The onward march of the bark beetles

by Chris ~ 5 August, 2018 ~ one comment

The woodlands blog has previously reported on the havoc being wreaked by bark beetles.  Such beetles may be small (about half a centimetre in length) but their effects on the western forests of North America is colossal - indeed some parts have lost 90% of their conifers.   Outbreaks of these beetles have been increasing in size and severity.

The beetles onward march was generally kept in check by long and cold winters, but with warmer temperatures (especially in the winter months) and a longer season for reproduction bark beetle populations have been gaining ground, even making their way into parts of the boreal forest of North America. Read more...

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

by Chris ~ 28 September, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Research workers in the States and Germany have been investigating the effect of drought on the subsequent growth of various types of trees.  Because of climate change, droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity.

The workers in the States found that trees took between two and four years to recover from drought and resume ‘normal’ growth.

The reduction in growth could be due to Read more...

The mediterranean cypress and forest fires.

The mediterranean cypress and forest fires.

by Chris ~ 7 October, 2016 ~ one comment

According the United Nations FAO, some two million hectares of forest were burnt in the Mediterranean region, between 2006 and 2010.  Most of these fires were 'human induced'; they (the fires) are the most frequent cause of degradation / loss of forest / woodland in this region.  In 2012, a fire swept through some 20,000 hectares of forest near Andilla (Valencia).   After the fire, it was found that though oaks, holm oaks, pines and junipers had been completely burnt, the vast majority (98% +) of the Mediterranean Cypresses were still standing, tall and green.   There followed a three year study of the fire resilience of the Mediterranean Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens var horizontalis) to see if stands of these trees might function as buffer zones to hinder or prevent the spread of forest fires. Read more...

Counting butterflies

Counting butterflies

by Lewis ~ 20 July, 2016 ~ 2 comments

The British have always been inclined to talk about the weather “it's been too hot, too cold, been raining for days etc”.  However, there is now some justification for discussing the weather as recent years have seen the number of extreme weather events increasing and there have been significant changes in the ‘pattern of the weather”.

Though not extreme, the weather this Spring and early Summer has been been disappointing.  Sleet and snow fell in late April, and there were a number of sharp frosts.  The April temperature was 6.5o C, 0.9o C below the 20 year long term average.  Most regions were colder and wetter.  This pattern continued into June.  This sort of weather, when coupled with last year’s rather cold , wet summer has significant effects on both insect and bird populations. Read more...

Drought and trees

Drought and trees

by Chris ~ 28 May, 2016 ~ comments welcome

Climate change is now a fact of life and one aspect of this is the occurrence of more extreme weather events.  These can take the form of high winds / hurricanes, extended periods of heavy rainfall or conversely periods of drought.  Clearly extreme weather can affect all ecosystems; woodlands and forests are no exceptions.   Consequently in recent years, a number of organisations have been looking at different tree species in order to understand more about drought resistance (or the ability to withstand prolonged flooding - when the roots are deprived of oxygen).

INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) has been looking at a small tree of the cypress Family (Cupressaceae) - Callitris tuberculata.   This grows as a small evergreen tree or shrub in Western Australia.  It can survive extreme drought and has been described as “the most drought resistant tree in the world”. Read more...

Woodlands come in many forms.

Woodlands come in many forms.

by Chris ~ 15 May, 2015 ~ comments welcome

The amount of woodland in the U.K. has increased significantly in the last one hundred years. At the time of the first World War, woodland coverage was at an all time low of about 5%.  The coverage of woodlands now stands at about 12% - much is in the form of coniferous plantation (established to provide a stock of useable wood and timber).  Coniferous plantations were often established on poor quality / marginal land.

However, it is possible to recognise many different types of woodland in the U.K.   How these are described or categorised varies. There is, for example, the Peterken system of stand types* – this is based on the presence of long established tree species. It has 12 main (and 39 subsiduary) types of woodland.   Then, there is the National Vegetation Classification (the subject of a blog some time back) - this Read more...

The effects of drought – go on and on.

The effects of drought – go on and on.

by Chris ~ 28 August, 2013 ~ one comment

With the recent spell of fine weather, some people may have wandered down memory lane and recalled “the summer of 76”.  Then, the temperature reached 80oF from June 22nd through to the 16th July, and for two weeks the temperatures in some areas exceeded 90oF.

However, temperature was not the only environmental factor to stress plants – lack of rainfall or drought was also a major factor.  The previous autumn had been quite dry, as was the winter of  1975–76.   The drought became most severe during the summer months - with woodland, forest and heath fires breaking out.  Crop production was also severely affected, and there was water rationing (and stand pipes) in some areas.

Ecologists* from the University of Stirling (Professor Alistair Jump) and the JNCC have recently investigated the (long term) effects of the 1976 drought on native woodland.   They examined the records of Lady Park Wood in the Wye Valley.  This 45 hectare Nature Reserve was ideal for a detailed study as there existed long term records  / surveys Read more...

Climate change and woodland management

Climate change and woodland management

by Rob Starbuck ~ 23 August, 2007 ~ 5 comments

Our native tree species have adapted to their local climate, atmosphere and soil conditions over many years. They have long life cycles and may take many years to reach maturity and seed bearing age. This leads to an inherently slow genetic response to changing climatic conditions. Because of this vulnerability it is worth considering how woodlands could be better managed for the future impacts of climate change.

Firstly, how will the climate change in our area? Predictions for the UK are for a generally milder climate. Summers are expected to be warmer and dryer with more frequent droughts, winters being milder and wetter with less frequent frosts. We need to consider how our woodlands might adapt to these conditions. Read more...

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