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Mast Years

Mast Years

by Lewis ~ 12 May, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Mast is the production of an enormous number of seeds, this can be seen not only in ‘traditional’ trees like beech and oak, but also monkey puzzle trees, certain pines and spruces.  In fact, mast years occur in species from 37 different plant families, though it tends to be restricted to long lived woody species, that ‘use’ wind pollination. During mast years, it is basically impossible for animals to eat all the seeds ("predator satiation") so many seeds survive to the following spring and germinate.  In other years, a poor seed set may result in dramatic effects on herbivore populations (red and grey squirrels, dormice, wild boar etc).

In the case of beech, records suggest an underlying pattern of masting every two years but in practice really heavy masts (in England) are several years apart (between 5 and 12).  The ‘signal’ for heavy masts  may be a combination of climatic factors such as late spring frosts, or summer droughts.  However, recent research suggests greater warmth in the previous two Springs and Summers (growing seasons) may be the trigger.   Read more...

A busman’s holiday, part 2

A busman’s holiday, part 2

by Dick ~ 8 March, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Having put in place the basic infrastructure so that I can store tools, equipment and firewood and have somewhere for shelter and to work, my attention turned to the top two priorities on my ‘to do’ list – well actually, numbers 2 and 3, number one will always remain ‘relax, do nothing and just enjoy it’.

Firstly there is a semi-circular clearing near the eastern side of what is essentially a triangular plot. I have planted a ‘family copse’ Read more...

Oaks by frith

Mark Frith’s ‘Legacy of Ancient Oaks’ at Kew Gardens.

by Angus ~ 5 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

"At times the tree appeared to draw itself", says Mark Frith in describing his 3-year project to draw 20 veteran oak trees.   Mark was sponsored by Felix Dennis to criss-cross Great Britain finding venerable oak trees, most of which had been alive for 500 years and some of which were over 1,000 years old.   Many of these trees have become local celebrities such as the Gospel Oak  in Hertfordshire or the Major Oak in Nottinghamshire, part of the original Sherwood Forest.  One of them, the Pontfadog Oak which was known as Wales' National tree got into the news in 2013 when a storm blew it over - so Frith's drawing caught this one just in time. Read more...

Elver stream

“The dream comes true – finding the perfect woodland”

by Kellie ~ 28 February, 2018 ~ one comment

We had talked about buying land for about 15 years and had been looking seriously for about 7 years. We had a fairly big wish list, private, quiet and secluded, not too near a road, but with good vehicular access, lots of broadleaf trees and some utility trees, a stream or two would be ideal, a sunny clearing with good night sky views and all within our very humble budget!   We looked at lots of  woodlands, but nothing ever really ticked all our boxes or felt right, so we just kept looking and wishing.

A new piece of woodland near us came up for sale so one Friday after work we excitedly went to have a look. Read more...

"Action Oak" - should oak tree research be funded by DEFRA or by charity appeal?

“Action Oak” – should oak tree research be funded by DEFRA or by charity appeal?

by Angus ~ 31 October, 2017 ~ 2 comments

Oak trees are under threat through disease and climate change and it will cost serious money to research causes and solutions.  This could be paid for either through general taxation or by an appeal for charitable donations with help from high profile people such as celebrities and the Royal family.  The rate of required spending on oak disease is increasing.  It is proposed to set up an "Action Oak" charity appeal spearheaded by Woodland Heritage - an organisation based in Haslemere just 10 miles from the Forestry Commission's research arm at Alice Holt in Surrey.

Many people will wonder why the government isn't doing more directly through DEFRA Read more...

The art of identification.

The art of identification.

by Johnny Morris ~ 10 May, 2017 ~ 2 comments

There is a long history of producing guides to help identify and explain the flora and fauna of woodlands. From the fine woodcuts in Leohart Fuch’s New Herbal book of 1543 to the Woodland Trust’s tree identification app. for smartphones in 2017, we have been naming and visually representing our plants and trees through the ages. Following this rich tradition Woodlands.co.uk have launched a range of educational posters designed to help primary school children recognise and understand what they can see in their woodlands. Read more...

Leaves in winter - marcescence

Leaves in winter – marcescence

by Chris ~ 10 February, 2017 ~ 2 comments

At some point during the months of Autumn,  the leaves have done their job (that of making sugars to be used in growth, the formation of new twigs and branches, forming fruits and seeds).  However, winter is not good for photosynthesis or growth; winds, low temperatures and low light intensities adversely affect a tree’s ability to make sugars. Indeed, if the leaves were retained throughout the winter, they might be regarded as a liability as they would use the the tree’s reserves (that were stored away in the Spring and Summer).  Plus, leaves would offer greater resistance to the wind and the tree would be more likely to suffer damage.  High winds are always more dangerous to a tree when it is in full leaf. Read more...

Bud burst and street lights.

Bud burst and street lights.

by Lewis ~ 24 August, 2016 ~ 2 comments

Street lighting may make our roads and homes safer places, but it also contributes to light pollution.  The bright lights of towns and cities make it difficult for us to see the stars and constellations in the night skies.  In places, the ‘warm yellow’ glow of street lights is being replaced with the white light of LEDs,  the benefits of LED lights include energy savings plus an increased life time as compared to conventional lights. However, when compared to older street lamps they emit more  blue light increases.   Some think that this blue light can suppress the production of melatonin ; this is involved in the regulation of our circadian rhythms - particularly our sleep patterns. Read more...

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