The 1980s were in many ways a turning point for British broadleaved woodland. The ancient woodland inventory project was getting underway; the 1982 the Broadleaves in Britain conference heralded a resurgence of interest in its woodland management; the Woodland Trust started to emerge as a significant player at a national scale in woodland debates. Less… Continue reading The rise and fall (?) of tree shelters
Orlestone Forest, south of Ashford, was one of several forests used in a study of the effects of age and crop type on the ground flora of plantations (KIRBY, 1988). I repeated the Orlestone survey in 1991 and 1998 although this was not written up. The current visit (August 2022) was a chance to see… Continue reading Changes in Orlestone Forest, Kent
They used to say that a good butcher could make use of every part of the pig, but the squeal, and we might say something similar about a forester and oak trees. H L Edlin (1949) described the various woodland crafts, largely dependent on human labour, as they had been for centuries, just before they… Continue reading A very crafty tree
Back in 2018 the Old Man speculated on what impact Ash Dieback would have on Wytham Woods, the disease having been confirmed as present only in 2017. There was still an unspoken hope that its impact would not be as great as feared. Nonetheless a series of project were put in place to explore what… Continue reading Tracking ash decline in Wytham
Witherslack Woods in south Cumbria are a special place for me because they were the first piece of major survey work that I did when I joined the Nature Conservancy Council as a woodland ecologist in 1979. They are a fantastic mix of acidic and base-rich woodland, of wet and dry communities. My focus in… Continue reading Gains and losses in woodland conservation
I first visited this wood in mid-Wales 42 yrs ago. Two things stuck in my mind particularly then: it was in the heart of the kite country when the GB population was only a few tens of birds; and a sheep-fenced exclosure showed good regeneration, not of oak but of rowan. Fence line effects from… Continue reading Allt Rhyd y Groes revisited
How big a wood is has profound effects on the wildlife in it: the ecological literature is full of graphs of species-richness plotted against site-size for example; studies of the interaction of size and isolation effects on species richness, based initially on islands, have been extended to habitat patches of one sort or another. Size… Continue reading Size Matters, but what do we mean by the size of a wood?
Draw a tree and you will likely start with a nice straight trunk. This is what most foresters want; a lack of knots in the outer wood is also desirable. Knots form where the tree has grown out round the base of a twig or branch, so a good timber tree is generally one where… Continue reading Bothersome buds, burrs and brooms
Nearly 45 years ago I started work for the Nature Conservancy Council in Cumbria as a lowly ‘Phase 1’ habitat surveyor. In those days it meant walking footpaths and scanning the countryside with binoculars from roadsides – attracting the attention of passers-by, irate land-owners, or occasionally even the police. We might, if lucky, have been… Continue reading New year, old dog, new tricks?
January, 2021, a new year, and the bright sun made me forget the rain and sleet in my face as I cycled out to the Woods. This large oak seems to dominate the stand but by the summer the younger ash and sycamore around were clearly out-growing it and the oak almost disappeared amongst their… Continue reading A year among the oaks