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Changing phenologies and climate change

Changing phenologies and climate change

by Chris ~ 16 July, 2019 ~ one comment

Phenology is about the observation of natural events, recording when things happen, for example, when horse chestnut and ash trees come into leaf, or when the first swifts or bumblebees are seen. These timings vary from year to year. Through the recording of natural events over many years, one can look for trends and see if they are correlated with changes in the weather or other phenomena.

Recent studies by researchers at Rothampstead, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the British Trust for Ornithology suggest that a number of different phenologies are changing.   They looked at various insect and bird populations in a variety of different habitats (urban gardens, agricultural systems, sand dunes, grassland, woodlands etc).  The broad conclusion was there was a trend towards earlier phenologies for UK bird, moth and butterfly species across habitat types” . For example, aphids (which breed rapidly and can adapt to changing temperature quite quickly) now take flight some 30 days earlier in the year than fifty years ago.   Such phenological changes have ‘knock on’ effects.  For example, the earlier arrival of aphids can affect potato crops.  Aphids spread plant viruses and young potato plants are more susceptible to viral disease than older, more mature plants. Read more...

Planting trees - millions of them

Planting trees – millions of them

by Chris ~ 17 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Following the First World War, the UK’s woodland coverage was at an all time low – just 5 per cent of total land area. The Acland Committee reported to then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that state organisation would be the most effective way to bring about re-afforestation of the UK and plan for the future of British woodland.  

As a result, the Forestry Commission was set up and, throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, it voraciously bought up land.  The aim of the Forestry Commission was to ensure that there would be a strategic reserve of timber, so, as it acquired land, it began to plant - mainly with conifers .

Low grade’ lands (those that were less in demand for agriculture) were pressed into service such as areas around Thetford Chase and Kielder, as were some sandy coastal sites (e.g. Holkham in Norfolk Read more...

When the Earth’s forests burned.

When the Earth’s forests burned.

by Lewis ~ 17 February, 2019 ~ one comment

Some sixty six million years ago, much of the Earth ‘caught fire’.  A large asteroid smashed into the Earth (on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico).   The force of the impact has been estimated to have been a billion times greater than the force of the atomic bombs deployed at the end of WW2.   The impact of the asteroid and its effects were devastating, resulting in catastrophe on a global scale.   The event has been mainly associated with the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Immediate to the impact, rocks and material was ejected high into the atmosphere - as this material fell back to earth, searing heat was generated and fires were ignited; indeed, intense forest fires were ignited certainly across the Americas.    Read more...

‘Waste’ Materials to landfill, coffee grounds.

‘Waste’ Materials to landfill, coffee grounds.

by Lewis ~ 5 January, 2019 ~ one comment

A recent woodlands blog discussed the millions of Christmas trees that end up as landfill material.  This is also true for a material that is generated in cafes and restaurants across the U.K - the ‘waste material’ is coffee grounds. Coffee is the second largest traded commodity after petroleum.  One estimate suggests that six million tonnes of spent coffee grounds go to landfill every year.  Landfill sites account for a fifth of the UK’s methane emissions; methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas associated with global warming & climate change. Read more...

Fires and climate change

Fires and climate change

by Chris ~ 17 July, 2018 ~ one comment

The recent hot spell has seen a number of fires, not only in the UK but across the world (Arizona , Victoria Australia, Indonesia).  Spells of extreme heat (and drought) have been known throughout history but it would seem that with climate change / global warming extreme events have become more common.   Data show that the years of the 21st century are among the warmest on record - global air temperatures have risen by 1oC since the industrial revolution.

Extreme temperatures have been recorded in many places across the globe.   Ouargla in Algeria soared to 124.3o F (51.3oC), Denver recorded at temperature of 105o F, Montreal recorded 97.9o F, Glasgow hit 89.4o F, Shannon in Ireland reached 89.6o F, Tbilisi (Georgia) soared to 104.9o F and parts of Pakistan are reported to have reached 50oC.   No record by itself can be ascribed to global warming but these and many other records across the globe are consistent with the extremes that can now be expected (more often) in a world that is warming - as atmospheric greenhouse gas levels increase due to human activity (we have entered the anthropocene).

Hot and dry conditions mean that plant material can dry out quickly, so that a thicker layer of pant material / litter is formed - which provides significant fuel for fires.   Studies of some areas suggest that the increased Winter and Spring rainfall (again associated with climate change) encourages plant growth, creating more material for fires (when dry conditions obtain later in the year). Read more...

"Trump Forest"

“Trump Forest”

by Lewis ~ 27 August, 2017 ~ 2 comments

President Trump is concerned that the Paris Climate Agreement will damage the U.S economy, cost jobs and offer a competitive advantage to Countries such as China and India.  In consequence, he has said that the United States will leave the Paris Climate Agreement and he has also ordered a review of ‘climate regulations’ legacy from the Obama administration.   The effect of these policies will be the release of greater quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - which will further exacerbate global warming and climate change.

A New Zealand based organisation called Trump Forest wants to offset the extra CO2 emissions Read more...

Woodlands, climate and robustness.

Woodlands, climate and robustness.

by Lewis ~ 13 January, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Climate change is a fact, though not one always accepted by certain politicians.   Greenhouse gas emissions have been growing since the C18th, and particularly in the period 1970 - 2004.   The warming of the world climate system is certain; air and ocean temperatures have increased.  

Though we cannot say how climate will change in any specific area with certainty, we can be sure that extreme weather events will become more common - droughts, heat waves, heavy rainfall, high winds and cyclones. Read more...

Global warming and the changing seasons.

Global warming and the changing seasons.

by Chris ~ 8 December, 2016 ~ comments welcome

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been carefully monitored since the 1950’s (for example at Mauna Loa).  For much of recorded history and prior to the industrial revolution, the level of carbon dioxide was about 280 ppm.  However, its current level of 400 ppm represents a significant increase and is probably the highest value for some 800,000 years.  It has risen because of the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, peat etc.) - which release carbon dioxide.  This has contributed to global warming and the phenomenon of climate change.

However, the rise in global temperature has not been quite as great as some calculations / predictions have proposed.  The “greening of the planet” (that is an increase in the number of trees and plants growing on the planet) was held to be responsible for this ‘reduction’ in anticipated temperatures. Read more...

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