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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...

Why do we need to shoot deer in British woodlands?

Why do we need to shoot deer in British woodlands?

by Peter ~ 27 November, 2014 ~ 7 comments

Today there are more deer in the UK than at any time since the last Ice Age.  They no longer have any natural predators in woodlands or fields. Total deer numbers are conservatively estimated at about 1.5 million and the rapidly expanding deer population threatens woodland biodiversity.  Over-grazing and browsing, particularly in ancient woodland, continues to have two very unfortunate consequences for conservation.  First, it can lead to a decline and loss in plant species in a given area, which often includes oxlip and bluebells.  Deer frequently damage saplings and cause other damage by stripping bark with their antlers. Read more...

Caledonian forests .....

Caledonian forests …..

by Chris ~ 9 August, 2013 ~ 3 comments

At the end of the last Ice Age, the recolonisation of the British Isles began.  Plant and animal species moved across the 'land bridge' that connected us with continental Europe.   Trees and other plants began to colonise and forest formed in many places.  As it took some time for the climate to warm, the first forests were probably coniferous – resembling the Caledonian Forests that can still be seen in Scotland today.   These early forests and woods would be characterised by pine, birch, aspen, rowan, juniper and perhaps oak.   At one stage, it is thought that such forest / woodlands covered some 15,000 km2 – a vast area.   Now, only a few remnants of this once enormous ecosystem survive in Scotland.

The Caledonian forest / woodlands represent a unique ecosystem in the British Isles – they are remnants of the vast wilderness that once existed here; and across on the Continent – as  boreal coniferous forest. These forests and woodlands are populated particularly by the Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris).  One of the larger tracts of this native pine forest is 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...

Ash dieback - what to do?  Pre-empt, plant, persevere, keep calm and carry on.

Ash dieback – what to do? Pre-empt, plant, persevere, keep calm and carry on.

by Richard ~ 30 October, 2012 ~ 5 comments

The last ice age endured for about 100,000 yrs.  Some 18,000 yrs ago, mammoths, sabre-toothed tiger and woolly rhino (preyed on by prehistoric man) roamed our land.  Thick ice sheets lay to the North, whilst to the South was tundra - much like that now seen in Northern Siberia. Then 10,000 years later, the ice sheets started to melt and the tundra receded; sea levels rose and low lying areas were flooded.   The North Sea and English Channel formed, cutting us off from mainland Europe. This was a gradual process (in our terms) and as Europe warmed,  trees migrated northwards - some reaching the UK before we were cut off from the rest of Europe.  Most plant colonisation was by seed and spores, animals followed bringing with them other taxa. Read more...

Spruce - an ice age survivor ?

Spruce – an ice age survivor ?

by Chris ~ 30 March, 2012 ~ Comments Off on Spruce – an ice age survivor ?

There have been many ice ages in the history of the Earth; but the last, which covered vast tracks of the Northern Hemisphere, came to an end some nine to ten thousand years ago – when the temperature (and sea level) rose.  It has always been assumed that no trees survived in the regions covered by the thick ice sheet, and that trees (like other plants) have returned to areas like Scandinavia by the gradual northern migration of species that had taken ‘sanctuary’ in warmer latitudes.

However, recently work has been undertaken by Read more...

The rabbit - an introduced species?

The rabbit – an introduced species?

by Lewis ~ 18 February, 2011 ~ 5 comments

Whilst rabbit bones and teeth are found at various U.K. archaeological sites that date back to ‘warm’ inter-glacial periods, none have been found at Iron Age, Roman or even Anglo-Saxon sites.  This suggests that the (European) rabbit did not survive the last Ice Age in the British Isles; therefore the rabbit is an introduced species (see previous blog / post).

The Romans imported domesticated rabbits but there is scant evidence that any Roman rabbits escaped to the countryside and established themselves.  Apparently, there is no mention of the rabbit in the Domesday Book – which recorded most things! Read more...

Invasions and introductions…

Invasions and introductions…

by Lewis ~ 19 January, 2011 ~ 3 comments

The native community of the U.K. is limited when compared to continental Europe.  The last Ice Age saw vast, thick glaciers covering much of Scotland and the Lake District, and all parts of the U.K. experienced a deep and long lasting arctic climate.    Plants and animals could only repopulate the land as and when the glaciers retreated and the climate improved.

Such movement was possible whilst the U.K. was still connected to Europe (Doggerland see the blog on “Our Changing Flora” ).  However, about 9500 BC, a giant flood broke through the ‘rock dam’ in the region of the Straits of Dover.  The flood washed away billions of tons of material creating the English Channel and separating the U.K. from Europe. Read more...

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