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Forests and woodlands – absorbing carbon dioxide?

by Lewis ~ 4 September, 2020 ~ one comment

Forests and woodlands are important in the global ecosystem; they have taken up some 20 to 30% of the carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels in recent times. It had been assumed that the dense and biodiverse tropical forest ecosystems (close to the equator) were particularly effective in soaking up this carbon dioxide’.   However, there is doubt that this will continue to be the case as forests shrink in size.  Plus, recent work at the University of Birmingham (Dr Tom Pugh) has shown that where forests were re-growing,  they took up large amounts of carbon partly because more carbon dioxide was available,  but also as a result of the younger age of the trees. This youthful carbon uptake was not associated with tropical areas, but with regenerating forests of more temperate regions. Read more...

coniferous forest

German forest dieback : waldsterben 2

by Lewis ~ 6 December, 2019 ~ comments welcome

In recent times, new or different threats have emerged to upset the balance of woodland and forest ecosystems.   In the 1960’s and early 70’s concern focussed on the effects of air pollution, particularly the effects of acid rain.  This type of pollution was characterised by the deposition / assimilation of sulphur dioxide and its derivatives (sulphuric & sulphurous acid), plus various nitrogen oxides.  This air pollution was largely due to industry and traffic.

Some of the most striking effects of ‘acid rain’ pollution were seen in the coniferous forests of Germany - where it was termed : Waldsterben [Wald=forest plus sterben=to die].  Read more...

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

by Lewis ~ 25 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands’ blog has reported on outbreaks of bark beetles in the States and Canada but as of 16th January this year, measures were put in place to protect the UK from the larger eight toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). This beetle has been a problem on continental Europe for many years; it has been estimated that Germany lost some 30 million cubic metres of timber (between 1945 and 1949) to bark beetles. Spruce is a commercially important species, with perhaps some 800,000 hectares in the UK.  On the continent, the beetle has also been found living in pine, larch and douglas firThe beetle was found in Kent last December.  The special measures restrict the movement of spruce in a 50 km area around the outbreak.  Details of this area can be found here. Read more...

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

by Chris ~ 28 September, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Research workers in the States and Germany have been investigating the effect of drought on the subsequent growth of various types of trees.  Because of climate change, droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity.

The workers in the States found that trees took between two and four years to recover from drought and resume ‘normal’ growth.

The reduction in growth could be due to Read more...

old forest

Białowieża- “a national treasure for Poland and an international treasure for us all”

by Lewis ~ 19 March, 2017 ~ 2 comments

Białowieża is a forested area that lies on the border of Poland and Belarus.  It includes some 1500 sq km of some of the tallest trees to be found in Europe, including towering hornbeams.  It is a species-rich area, with carnivores such a lynx and wolves, 120 bird species (including the three toed woodpecker and pygmy owl), 60+ mammal species including the bison!  The area has been described as a “national treasure for Poland and an international treasure for us all”.

The tracts of forest are special as they have never been felled, though it would be wrong to think of the woodland as ‘primaeval’  like the original ‘wildwood’. The woodland / forest supports a community through tourism, timber, hunting, honey and mushrooms, not to mention scientific researchers and the staff associated with the National Park.  However, only 105 square km of the forest has been designated as National Park or a Unesco Heritage Site. Read more...

More productive forestry trees (and Dr Steve Lee).

More productive forestry trees (and Dr Steve Lee).

by Angus ~ 24 November, 2016 ~ comments welcome

Since 1960 commercial trees in the UK have become about 25% more productive.  This has been achieved through selective breeding, mostly of Sitka Spruce and Scots pine where plants have been chosen for their rapid growth.  It has also led to better quality timber which produces more sawlogs.  Unfortunately according to the Forestry Commission's Steve Lee, no similar effort has been made with broadleaved trees so they have suffered a relative disadvantage compared to the progress with conifers.  He says, "We dropped tree selection for broadleaved trees in the 1960s because it was thought to be not worthwhile."

Read more...

Woodland types : Coniferous plantations

Woodland types : Coniferous plantations

by Chris ~ 15 July, 2015 ~ 3 comments

Coniferous plantations are found throughout the U.K.   There are some 300,000+ hectares in England, 900,000+ hectares in Scotland, and circa 106,000 hectares in Wales.   Large scale conifer planting ‘took off’ soon after the First World War.   At about this time, the woodland cover had fallen to 5% (in Britain) so the Forestry Commission was established. This had the aim of ensuring that there would be a strategic reserve of timber.

Vast areas of ‘low grade’ land were pressed into service.   Areas around Thetford and Kielder were used, as were some sandy coastal sites (e.g. Holkham in Norfolk) and many large tracts in Scotland (including the use of some natural peatlands). Read more...

Chatsworth Arboretum and Pinetum - highly managed woodlands

Chatsworth Arboretum and Pinetum – highly managed woodlands

by Angus ~ 8 May, 2015 ~ comments welcome

In the 1830s the 6th Duke of Devonshire, owner of the Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire, was one of the first to plant a pinetum and arboretum.  He did this in partnership with Joseph Paxton, who later became famous for building the Crystal Palace exhibition in London.  Taking a few acres of grazing land above the great house at Chatsworth, they set about planting trees systematically in accordance with the botanical classification used at the time.  It's very clear that both the Duke and Joseph Paxton had great fun in their creation of some large-scale landscape features.   Read more...

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