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”
The conservation sector is quite used to the idea that one wood is not necessarily the same as the next; that a site in Kent will be different to one in Gwynedd. We need to remember to apply this principle to how woods change over time as well as space, right back into pre-history. Some… Continue reading Every wood has a different history
Autumn is here and the heatwave of the summer a distant memory, although in Wytham the ground is still quite dry and ponds and streams have not yet filled-up again. Time to start looking at results from the Dawkins Plots surveys, to see what they might suggest for where the Woods are going now that… Continue reading Ash Dieback in Wytham Woods
I recently attended the Native Woodland Discussion Group’s conference with this title at Perth (http://www.nwdg.org.uk). It was a fascinating day, kicked-off by Frans Vera, talking about the role that large herbivores might have played in shaping such forests. My reflections on the day are set out below. A challenge to conservation thinking I first read… Continue reading The nature of the first forests in North-west Europe
A common reaction when it looks like a wood is being overgrazed, is to put in a fenced exclosure. Marked differences may then develop between the area within the fence and that outside. The exclosures may be maintained, as are those in Roudsea Wood, Cumbria, but with the wood outside still being heavily impacted. In… Continue reading An exclosure study in Derbyshire – what happened after
Apologies, this should have gone up in August when it was written! Kielder has a claim to be Europe’s largest man-made forest, but for me it was the campsite we stopped off in on our way to holidays in Scotland in the mid-Sixties. One time I went for a walk and thought I would cut… Continue reading All Spruced-up
My plot recording in Wytham Woods to provide a baseline of the condition of the vegetation at the start of the Ash Dieback outbreak has gone well, albeit I could have done with slightly cooler conditions. At times I was wilting nearly as much as the dog’s mercury. Three-quarters of the plots have so far… Continue reading Death and decay in the Woods
Apparently, summer is a difficult time of year for badgers, particularly the cubs, because, as the soil dries out they are unlikely to be able to find enough earthworms to eat. I don’t eat earthworms but high summer in the woods is not my favourite season either. (line drawing @Natural England) The spring has the… Continue reading This is the season the badger dislikes and so do I! (With apologies to Thomas Hardy)