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)
Berriedale is noted as the most northerly semi-natural woodland in Britain, but my memories of it from a visit in 1983, was that it was little more than a few birch and willow in a gully. Descriptions of it implied there was more to it and it now features on the 1:25000 O.S. map, so… Continue reading Berriedale on Hoy, Orkney
There are interesting discussions going on about the role of keystone species and whether ‘lost’ species should be re-introduced. We have the lynx proposal for Northumberland, official and guerrilla releases of beaver, the spread of wild boar. Elsewhere low populations are being reinforced, for example red kite releases and the recent pine marten translocation in… Continue reading Are trees overlooked keystone species in the re-introduction debate?
One of the few, reasonably consistent, rules in conservation, is that big sites tend to hold more species than small ones. If species number is plotted against the logarithm of wood area for example there is usually a good straight-line fit. Does that mean we should always give priority to the largest sites? Can conservation… Continue reading Does size matter in woodland conservation?
The title is modified from a quote used in the public health sector. It reflects the problems of trying to adopt evidence-based approaches to in this case conservation management. If asked what we really know about the effects our woodland management is likely to have on the species found in a site, the honest answer… Continue reading WWWWW or Would it work on a wet Wednesday in Wytham ?
Every now and then someone asks me a question which is so obvious and yet I had never really thought about it. I have regularly noted that our woodland cover (13%) is very much less than the European average of about 35%, but a recent query made me consider it a bit more. Forest map… Continue reading Why do we have less woodland than the rest of Europe?
WHolly and ivy are so strongly associated with Christmas that the carols start in my head, even as I write. The winter greenery was a sign of hope and renewal in the dark, cold, days of winter. The Green Knight who challenges Gawain at King Arthur’s Christmas feast carried a holly bob as a sign… Continue reading The Holly and the Ivy
We were up in the woods last week and the beech leaves were a beautiful golden in the autumn light. The fluttering as they fell added to the atmosphere, but apart from lending magic to dull November days, litter plays a bigger role in the life of a wood than often we give it credit.… Continue reading Littering the soil
When I moved up to the Lake District in 1977 my supervisor recommended I read H.H.Symonds‘s Afforestation in the Lake District (Symonds, 1936). This is an early polemic against large-scale conifer planting. Similar language was used in the 1980s at the height of the controversy about planting in bogland of Caithness and Sutherland (Tomkins, 1989).… Continue reading Where to with conifer plantations?
Woodland ecologists have a difficult relationship with large herbivores whether these are domestic livestock such as sheep and cattle, or wild ones like deer. In Wytham, for example, there are tensions. We have a scatter of large old oak and ash on former common land that became part of the woods in the 19th century. … Continue reading To graze or not to graze?