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?
In experiments in greenhouses and gardens woodland plants grow better with more nutrients. More nitrogen for example may help them survive better under dense shade, because the plants can produce larger leaves and capture more sunlight. In the field additional nutrients can be a disadvantage to some of the woodland flora. The plants may be… Continue reading Too much of a good thing?
I first came across Albrecht Durer’s masterly painting of a piece of turf in the 1970s. Trudy was working on grassland at the time, so it was an obvious print to get and the blockmount is still with us. It shows a mixture of herbs and grasses, but not just any old species chosen for… Continue reading Time and relative dimensions in space in woodland surveys
One view is that our ancestors left the forest for open grassland and that change in our environment helped to make us human. However, we never really left the trees. They continued to provide us with necessary commodities, enjoyment and inspiration. They helped to maintain the stability of the environment that is essential for individual… Continue reading Brave new treescapes?
The principles around introducing wild flowers to new sites were explored in the 1980s in relation to creating species-rich grassland from scratch or through enrichment of existing fields (Wells et al., 1981). Grassland introductions have since developed to the point where there are a wide variety of wildflower mixes available from commercial seed firms.… Continue reading Introducing wild flowers to new woods
My first visit to Oostvaardersplassen, in the Netherlands, was in 2004 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oostvaardersplassen. At that time ideas around rewilding were still relatively novel to me and to the conservation sector in Britain generally and my colleagues and I came away excited by what we had seen (Hodder et al., 2005). I was not sure how much the reserve had changed in the meantime and whether my reaction to the place would be the same after a further fifteen years of rewilding discussions.
Conservation policy and practice usually value native species of plant over introductions: they are our particular responsibility just as Eucalypts are the Australians’ and Sequoias the Americans’. Native usually means those plants that arrived under their own steam after the last glaciation and formed part of our natural vegetation. However, while the nativeness concept seems… Continue reading Where does it come from and how long has it been here?
Most autumns when I worked for Natural England and its predecessors, I would get at least one letter, phonecall or email from a student who wanted to do a project on woodland. There was often an assumption that there was a standard survey method that would give them ‘the answer’. Some were rather put out… Continue reading “I’d like to do a woodland survey”