Woods, especially ancient woodland, exist over much of the country as small patches surrounded by a totally different habitat, whether lowland farmland or upland moor. During the 1970s and 1980s it became common to compare such patches to real islands surrounded by sea and to apply island biogeography ideas to terrestrial conservation questions. The continuing… Continue reading No wood is an island
Wytham Woods should really be called the Woods of Hazel in commemoration of Hazel, the daughter of Raymond and Hope ffennell, the owners of the Woods in the 1920s and 1930s. She died quite young and is commemorated by the marker stone along the Singing Way. The ffennells subsequently transferred the estate to the University.… Continue reading The Woods of Hazel
The jackdaws are swirling over our street, dropping sticks into chimney pots; in the hedges and woods new growth is appearing – cow parsley, lesser celandine, primroses and anemones. Spring is underway. It may temporarily get put on hold, if we have a sudden cold snap, but it won’t then be long before things get… Continue reading Strange times
Time and again people stress the usefulness of long-term records and bemoan their lack. Yet at a recent conference http://www.ukeof.org.uk/conference-2020 , organised by the UK Earth Observation Forum, monitoring and long-term surveillance were described as the Cinderella subjects. It is generally much more exciting for funders, and often for the researchers themselves, to set-up new… Continue reading How do we best organise studies of long-term change?
When did you last press a plant?
Clones often get a bad press. Multiple identical copies of the same individual are seen as undesirable, vulnerable to diseases, unlikely to survive. Yet our woods are full of them (and so are many gardens). Clones are simply groups of individuals that are all identical genetically. When a daffodil or bluebell forms a new bulb… Continue reading The Clones have landed
And with good reason, given the way we have spread elm disease across continents. There was a big elm tree at the top of our garden by the road, elms in the adjacent hedge, and a couple of other small clumps on our boundaries when I was boy. I remember Dutch Elm Disease appearing in… Continue reading Ellum she hateth mankind…
The Forestry Commission has always been a strange beast. Formed in response to war-time timber shortages in 1919 it long retained something of a military hierarchy in its structure. It was a Civil Service Department that also became one of the country’s biggest landowners with all the practical responsibilities that go with such an estate.… Continue reading A century of the Forestry Commission
Yellowstone National Park was one of the places that kept coming up through my career, as the first U.S. national park; as one of the key examples in the rewilding literature because of the re-introduction of wolves; and as the site of devastating fires in 1988 (or were they just what the park needed). So,… Continue reading A visit to Yellowstone National Park
Foresters are often accused of just looking up at the trees and ignoring the ground flora around their feet – ‘stepover’ plants. Yet how often do I think about what is going on below the flowers, herbs and ferns that I am recording in my permanent plots, down in the soil? Being aware of soil… Continue reading The answer lies in the soil, but what is the question?