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Wood - "Dirtier than coal"

Wood – “Dirtier than coal”

by Angus ~ 2 January, 2014 ~ one comment

About a year ago the RSPB, along with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, put the cat among the proverbial pigeons by arguing that use of some woodfuel is "Dirtier than Coal".  This caused controversy amongst woodfuel zealots but the study showed that not all woodfuel is created equally.   The report was particularly concerned about subsidies which encourage the burning of whole trees where they are grown especially for woodfuel, and where these displace other land uses often to be transported long distances for power stations.  The "Dirtier than Coal' report said that full carbon accounting was necessary and we should take account of the short term effect of clear felling rather than using thinings: clear felling can lose the benefit of carbon fixing which is achieved by letting trees grow on.  The RSPB position is that we need to do full carbon accounting, create new woodlands and set up coherent sustainability standards. Read more...

Making nests for long-eared owls

Making nests for long-eared owls

by Angus ~ 27 June, 2013 ~ 2 comments

The North Wales Wildlife Trust has reserves where it is trying to involve the public but also wants to encourage long-eared owls to breed. Surprisingly, perhaps, long-eared owls do not build their own nests and there are only about 2,000 pairs, usually adopting unused nests of other species.

These owls are threatened by the growing population of buzzards and corvids, so Jonny Hulson and his colleagues from NWWT are working to encourage the owls to nest, by getting the public to build nests with wire, twigs and moss, as shown in the picture below.  Jonny hopes that the nests will also be used by hobbys and merlins. Read more...

Monterey Pine - Pinus radiata

Monterey Pine – Pinus radiata

by Chris ~ 19 April, 2012 ~ 11 comments

Monterey Pine or Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) is found naturally in the coastal area around Monterey in California.  There, it is under threat from Pine Pitch Canker (a fungal disease), which makes them liable to attack by bark beetles.  Monterey pine is to be found growing in milder parts of the UK (where it grows faster than in its native habitat), and in coastal areas as it is resistant to salt spray.

The pine is extensively and intensively used in forestry, especially in countries like New Zealand (like the Kaingaroa Forest on the North Island).  The monterey pine can be used for erosion control on steep slopes - as it has a widespread and fast growing root system

The growth form of the tree is conic at first, but as the tree ages it becomes dome shaped with heavily, twisted branches. 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

Holly - a really useful tree

Holly – a really useful tree

by Chris ~ 8 December, 2011 ~ one comment

In various older texts on botany and gardening, it is said that ' … in Germany, Holly abounds in many forests… In France, it is abundant, more particularly in Brittany.  The tree appears to attain a larger size in England than in other parts of Europe"  Certainly, in the past there were large areas where Holly was abundant. For example, Needwood Forest in Staffordshire. This was a significant and ancient Midlands forest. However, the Enclosure Act of 1803 allowed for the felling of large numbers of trees; this took some time to complete.  In his ‘Plant Book’, Professor David Mabberley notes that some 150,000 holly trees were taken from Needwood about this time, to provide bobbins for the cotton mills of Lancashire.  (Bagot’s Wood is said to be the largest existing piece of this ancient wood). Read more...

How old is that tree ?

How old is that tree ?

by Richard ~ 28 October, 2011 ~ 7 comments

How often does the question arise "how old is that tree"?  Experienced foresters can often look at a tree and make a good estimate, based on trees they have felled in different areas where different growth rates can lead to trees of very different size of the same age.

For the less experienced, ageing trees can be much more difficult, assuming we are not felling them to count rings!  Some trees are virtually impossible to age, very old yew, mainly because of their great age cannot be accurately dated, see http://www.ancient-yew.org/mi.php/dating-yews/99 for further details. Read more...

Scots Pine, fire, and capercaillies.

Scots Pine, fire, and capercaillies.

by Lewis ~ 13 May, 2011 ~ 3 comments

Scots pine and natural pine woodland has a wide distribution in the Northern Hemisphere (it stretches from Scandinavia to southern Spain and from Scotland to Siberia).  It is home to a number of special species, like the capercaillie or wood grouse (the males are strongly territorial and engage in a distinctive mating display).  However, in some pine woodlands the structure and composition of the understory / shrub layer changes over time so that heather comes to dominate to the detriment of the blueberry (Vaccinium ssp). Read more...

pine forest New York State

Bark Beetles

by Chris ~ 8 May, 2010 ~ 4 comments

In and around the Rocky Mountains, the wholesale destruction of vast areas of pine forests is occurring.  The annihilation of these forests is due to a beetle – the Bark Beetle, which devours the soft tissues underneath the bark. The beetle is quite small, bit like a grain of rice.  Vast tracks of forests have been ‘lost’ to this beetle; it has been estimated that some six million acres have been affected in the United States, and even greater areas in Canada, especially in British Colombia, where many more million of acres may be lost. Read more...

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