UK launches public woodlands online database


The Woodland Trust is to create a searchable online database of 24,000 woodlands across the UK, reports Horticulture Week.

The project won grant funding of £1.2m from Natural England’s Access to Nature initiative, which is  funded by £25m from the Big Lottery Fund.

It will form part of a new VisitWoods’ project, with around 20 groups ushering in new audiences of young and older people and people with disabilities to woods.

The VisitWoods’ team will launch the website in 2010 as a “gateway” to site-based information, searchable maps, free downloadable resources, comments and pictures.

Woodland Trust estimates that more than 33 million people in the UK live within 4km of a large wood. But children, older people and people with disabilities are least likely to visit.

“By forming partnerships and understanding the barriers to potential visitors, we aim to help give people inspiration and confidence,” says project director Jill Attenborough.

VisitWoods will train a network of volunteers to generate “inspiring new content on woods” throughout the UK and provide peer-to-peer online support for new visitors.

Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “We believe we will be opening new doors of opportunity for many groups who previously felt excluded.”

Source: Horticulture Week

Date: 20/05/2009

UK’s Woodland Trust to plant a million trees


The Woodland Trust is to plant around a million trees on several sites across the UK to protect the “UK’s equivalent of the rainforest”,  reports Horticulture Week.

“The Plant a Tree appeal will help us plant around a million trees at five key sites across the UK, with others to come in the future,” said conservation officer Fran Hitchinson.

“The trees will buffer ancient woodland, protecting these irreplaceable sites — the UK’s equivalent of the rainforest — and thereby increase their ecological resilience.”

The trust’s 350-hectare Heartwood Forest woodland, near St Albans, will protect three ancient woods allowing wildlife to move and thrive, she added.

Low Burnhall in Durham will be bulked out by 80,000 trees to help conserve the ancient trees and create and shelter for wildflower meadows.

While Milton Woods, at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands in Stirling, will see over 180,000 trees planted to create wildlife havens for otters, owls and wading birds.

The Woodland Trust wants people to donate £15 for a tree to be planted and nurtured for 12 years.

Those who give money will be sent updates and pictures.

Source: Horticulture Week

Date: 01/05/2009

Twiglet: Trees and roots


  • First thing to emerge from a seed is the embryonic root – the radicle.
  • In most plants, this primary root will develop secondary or lateral roots that grow out away from the main root as the plant grows.
  • The growth of any root is dependent on a small ball of dividing cells just behind the root tip. This collection of cells is called a meristem; it generates new cells to extend the root and form new root tissue (such as the xylem and phloem – the conducting tissues).
  • A long tap root may develop in suitable soils, whilst, in sandy ot peaty soils, the lateral roots may dominate.
  • Studies indicate the dominance of the young tap root is often lost quite early in development in many tree species.
  • The deepest root systems are probably found on desert plants.
  • Tree roots do not generally occur too deep in the soil, with the majority of roots found in the top one to two metres.
  • Trees tend to have shallow but extensive root systems.
  • The spread of the lateral roots can be as great as the spread of the canopy or crown, even further in some cases.
  • One study showed that the root spread of poplars was three times the crown radius. This type of root system is sometimes referred to as an extensive system.
  • An intensive root system is one that is confined to a smaller volume of soil, relying on shorter lateral that have numerous fine endings. This system is seen in beech (Fagus sylvatica), which was one of the species that suffered more than most in the drought of 1976.
  • The survey of trees blown over in the October 1987 Great Storm showed that only 2-3% had distinct tap roots.
  • Oak, pine and silver fir are among the species with persistent tap roots.
  • Other species have what are known as “heart root systems”, where larger and smaller roots penetrate the soil diagonally from the main trunk. Trees such as larch, lime and birch can fall into this category.
  • A surface root system is one where the roots tend to run horizontally just below the soil surface, with a few roots going deeper and vertically. Ash, aspen and Norway spruce are examples of trees with these kinds of roots.
  • The root system depends upon the local geology, soil type, climate, drainage… so, if a local area is water logged, this will limit the gas exchange which in turn will affect the amount of oxygen the roots can get for respiration (which generates the energy needed for growth and the absorption of minerals).
  • When oxygen levels in the soil falls, root growth is reduced or stops completely — the availability of oxygen can also be reduced by the compaction of the soil.

Source: Woodland Trust

UK charity gets funds to plant urban woodland


A multimillion-pound grant scheme to improve access to nature has targeted a project to plant urban woods to help people reconnect with nature, and avoid anti-social behaviour, Horticulture Week reports.

Access to Nature, managed by Natural England, aims to hand out £25 million of Big Lottery money to urban communities to start or improve nature projects.

One of the winners, conservation charity the Woodland Trust, aims to transform 10 of its urban woods in the North West.

Its grant of £213,000 will help launch a Woodland Communities project, said Woodland Trust woodland officer Tim Kirwin.

“The aim is to re-connect local people with their environment and reverse elements of antisocial behaviour,” he said of the target area around Warrington and Runcorn.

The zone straddled two boroughs containing some of the most deprived wards in England and within one mile of an estimated 155,000 people, Kirwin said.

“We want to increase local appreciation of woodland and tackle attitudes behind current antisocial activities and the dumping of rubbish.”

Events will include woodland-discovery sessions for schools, conservation work and efforts to help “make the sites an asset to the area rather than a blight”.

Mr Kirwin observed: “It will involve transforming areas that are often deserted and sometimes litter-strewn into bustling outdoor community facilities and give people the confidence to use woodland more fully.

“Many people in the area are just not connected with their natural environment, so we need to find ways to help make that happen, with schools playing a big part.”

Another project to receive the lottery funding was Wild About Plants, a project lead by charity Plantlife, which has received £327,000.

Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “Modern life can mean losing regular contact with nature, and we must find a way of putting people back in touch.”

Source: Horticulture Week

Date: 13/01/2009

UK weather sparks autumn spectacular


Parks and forests in the UK are making up for the miserable summer by providing visitors with spectacular autumn leaf displays, experts say.

A report on the BBC News website said that public gardens have been carpeted in an array of deep red and yellow leaves, thanks to the year’s unusual weather.

Experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, say a wet summer, followed by mild frost and some warm September days, were perfect for the display.

American oaks, ash, and sweet gum trees provide some of the best colours.

Tony Kirkham, Kew’s head of arboretum, said the wet summer provided good growing conditions for the trees.

An unusual mild frost on 28 September then helped the leaves turn to gold.

He said: “In September, we had some cold temperatures in the evening and warm, sunny days.

“The mild frost acts as an early warning to the trees to shut down for winter, so they can take some of the goodness out of the leaves and you get the good colours.

“If you get a long frost, they don’t get a chance to do that and the leaves fall quickly.”

“We have a real variety of trees in Kew, so you get a rainbow of colours but we seem to be getting good autumn colour all over the country.”

The National Trust says its gardens such as Sheffield Park in East Sussex and Stourhead in Wiltshire are attracting many visitors, keen to see the displays.

Meanwhile, the Woodland Trust says the wet summer has been good for nature, providing an abundance of fungi and berries for birds to feed on ahead of the winter.

Source: BBC News website

Date: 20/10/2008

Scottish scheme ‘planting 1,149 trees a day’


A conservation partnership has planted the equivalent of 1,149 trees each day for the past eight years.

In a press release, the Scottish Forest Alliance (SFA) said that more than 3.3 million trees had been planted or had been allowed to naturally regenerate, as its decade-long project enetered its ninth year.

The The SFA is described as a “unique woodland conservation project” involving oil giant BP, Foresty Commission Scotland, the Woodland Trust Scotland and RSPB Scotland.

In 2000, BP pledged to invest £10bn over 10 years to support the SFA project, which has been described as Scotland’s biggest corporate commitment to the environment to date.

The goal is to help regenerate the nation’s fragmented native woodlands, helping to restore the rich diversity of flora and fauna that once flourished in these habitats.

It is also seeking to encourage local communities to become involved in the management of these areas.

Over the full 10 years, the scheme intends to create more than 8,400 hectares of new tree cover by planting almost 8.2 million trees.

“This successful project is playing a major role in creating significant new areas of native woodland,” said Andrew Fairbairn, development manager for the Woodland Trust Scotland.

“Across Scotland, we have planted millions of trees and encouraged millions more to naturally regenerate.”

He aded that the scheme had enabled  hundreds of thousands of people each year to enjoy the great outdoors.

“This in turn has a positive spin off for biodiversity and wildlife, as well as toruism and local communities.”

Source: SFA press release

Date: 09/10/2008

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