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The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

by Chris ~ 20 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Atlantic oak woodland is often referred to as the Celtic Rainforest.  It is characterised by lichen covered trees, together with a rich moss and liverwort flora.  The environment is damp and humid, with streams and waterfalls contributing to this. These woodlands have evolved under the influence of the Gulf Stream,  which helps keeps the area warm (and wet).

The difficult access and rugged terrain (in some areas) has helped to preserve these woodlands, plus they have not proved suitable for agriculture or ‘industrial forestry’.  Consequently, in many areas,  they have remained in their 'ancient state', going back to the last ice age.  Their sessile oaks are very important for wildlife but as they are not always productive of good timber, they have often been left to grow to maturity.  By the same token, Birch trees have relatively low timber value - which has been their salvation.  Woodlands like this were more extensive in the past covering the Atlantic fringe of Western Europe from North West Scotland down to the South of Portugal.  This type of woodland is rich in terms of biodiversity (primroses, violets, wild garlic, ferns and grasses) and some species are only to be found here and nowhere else in the world. Read more...

Trees for Christmas.

Trees for Christmas.

by Lewis ~ 19 December, 2017 ~ 5 comments

Each year, a variety of conifers are sold as Christmas trees, for example, the

  • Norway Spruce Picea abies
  • Silver Fir Abies alba 
  • Nordmann Fir Abies normanniana
  • Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris

and in North America

  • Douglas Fir Pseudotuga menziesii  and
  • Balsam Fir Abies balsamea.

Read more...

Iceland's missing woodland and forest.

Iceland’s missing woodland and forest.

by Lewis ~ 1 September, 2017 ~ one comment

Some ten to fifteen million years ago, Iceland supported forests and woodlands of Redwoods (Sequoia), Magnolia and Sassafras.   The presence of such species suggests that at this time the climate was warm and temperate.  Later, in the Pliocene period, evidence from pollen studies, suggest that Pines, Larch, Birch and Alder had come to dominate; species that are associated with Boreal Forest - so the climate had cooled considerably.

There then followed the glaciations of the Pleistocene (often simply referred to as the Ice Age) - a geological epoch which lasted from about 2,500,000 to 12,000 years ago.  Glaciers marched across the surface of the Earth, but retreated in the warmer inter-glacial periods. Read more...

Have we moved into 'the human epoch' ?

Have we moved into ‘the human epoch’ ?

by Lewis ~ 1 May, 2016 ~ 4 comments

As a species, we humans have only been present on the Earth for a ‘blink of the eye’ in geological terms.   The Earth is approximately some 4.6 billion years old. Geologists have divided up these years into a number of geological periods or epochs - from the Pre-cambrian (from the formation of the earth until about 540 million years ago) to the most recent - the Holocene, which started at the end of the last Ice Age - about 12,000 years ago.

Modern Humans emerged out of Africa probably some 200,000 years ago, and since that time they have increased massively in number.   At the end of the C18th , there were probably about one billion people; now there are over seven billion.

We have changed the Earth in many ways.   Read more...

Counting the trees.

Counting the trees.

by Chris ~ 19 November, 2015 ~ 2 comments

How many trees are there in the world?  Four hundred billion was the figure often quoted; that is, until this month when a report in Nature has come up with a figure slightly in excess of three trillion.   This approximates to 420 trees for each person on the plant.

How was this figures arrived at ?  Well, the team (an impressive array of scientists from Universities and research institutions all over the world) amassed data from national forest inventories, plus peer reviewed studies where forests and woodlands had been studied in detail; this information was then used to inform what was also being seen on satellite imagery. For the purposes of the study a tree was defined as "a plant with a woody stems larger than 10 cm at breast height".  Read more...

Woodland types :Yew Woodland.

Woodland types :Yew Woodland.

by Chris ~ 17 September, 2015 ~ 2 comments

Yew woodland (in Southern England) tends to develop on the thin soils that form over chalk, often on the sides of dry valleys . They can be found along the North Downs, and in West Sussex on parts of the South Downs. Yew woodlands can also be found in the Cotswolds and in the Wye Valley (on limestone). In Ireland, there is a significant Yew wood near Killarney, again growing on top of limestone.

Yew woodland may develop from chalk grassland, when grazing by sheep or rabbits is removed. With no grazing, Juniper and / or Hawthorn start to grow.  Then, between these, shade-tolerant Yew seedlings begin to grow.   Eventually, the Yew will overtake the Juniper / Hawthorn, and shade them out. The dead remains of juniper and hawthorn sometimes may be seen on the floor of a Yew woodland. Read more...

Woodland types : Birch woodlands

Woodland types : Birch woodlands

by Chris ~ 10 June, 2015 ~ 3 comments

Birch is a pioneer species, that is often replaced by oak, beech or other species.   After the last Ice Age, birch moved in quickly as the glaciers receded.   Even now, after clearfell in almost any part of the country,  birch is usually the first to appear by natural regeneration (and can act as a nurse for planted oak etc.); some refer to it as the 'forester's weed'.    Birch woodland is generally “open” and the trees are often of a similar age and size. Birch regeneration is often respaced (thinned) with a clearing saw  (the resulting thinnings may be used for horse jumps - like the Grand National).

However, birch woodland has mainly persisted (in the U.K.) where conditions are harsh and limit the growth of other species. Read more...

Woodland types :  Beech Woodlands

Woodland types : Beech Woodlands

by Chris ~ 22 May, 2015 ~ 4 comments

Beech woodland is native to Southern England and Wales (roughly, south of a line drawn from The Wash to the The Severn).  However, in some parts of the country, beech has been planted systematically, for example, John Holliday of Staffordshire planted some 94000 beech in 1791.  Beech is found throughout Central and Western Europe. It is generally found on freely draining (drier) soils (chalks, limestones and light loams) such as found in the Cotswolds, Chilterns and the Downs. Read more...

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