The University of Oxford acquired the Wytham Estate in 1942-3 and its Department of Forestry was given responsibility for developing a management plan for the woods. This was a logical decision, as there had been informal discussions with the previous owner, Colonel ffennell, before the war about using the woods for forestry teaching. It paralleled… Continue reading A missed opportunity?
If winter comes , can spring be far behind
It is already the end of January. After a cold spell in December and another last week the weather in Oxford has turned mild again. Of course, it could still go horribly wrong – think Beast from the East – but woodpeckers have started drumming, bluebells are spearing up through the litter, there are few… Continue reading If winter comes , can spring be far behind
Conserving oak genes
Oak has a special place in the hearts of many people and there is strong support for the conservation of oak and oak woodland. However, what exactly is it we should be conserving? The standard definition of biodiversity refers to the conservation of variety at genetic level as well as that at the species and… Continue reading Conserving oak genes
Should we revisit conifer-broadleaved mixtures?
There are major government targets for creating new woodland and increasing the benefits that come from existing woods. Different types of woodland are needed to deliver different objectives. There are woods where natural processes should predominate but elsewhere various forms of intervention will be used to ensure that a specific mix of products, such as… Continue reading Should we revisit conifer-broadleaved mixtures?
We need to talk about Holly
We need to talk about Holly There are people who cannot identify oak trees from their leaves, but I bet they could identify holly leaves by their prickles and evergreen appearance on Christmas cards. However, it is only the lower leaves that have the prickles; the upper leaves are flatter and lack spines, presumably because… Continue reading We need to talk about Holly
The rise and fall (?) of tree shelters
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
Changes in Orlestone Forest, Kent
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
A very crafty tree
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
Tracking ash decline in Wytham
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
Gains and losses in woodland conservation
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