Monthly Archives: April 2017

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Forest loss in World Heritage sites

IUCN reports that the majority of natural World Heritage sites are under increasing pressure from human activities, according to a new analysis that quantifies for the first time changes in human footprint and forest loss in over 100 terrestrial natural World Heritage sites.  The study, led by the University of Queensland, Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Northern British Columbia, and IUCN appears in the journal Biological Conservation.

Bastian Bertzky, Science Adviser for IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, and co-author of the paper, says:

“The data speaks for itself: human pressure and forest loss are increasing in the world’s most precious natural areas.  Despite their international recognition, natural World Heritage sites are continuously facing severe threats, including from logging, mining, dams and roads, when they should be granted the highest level of protection.”

You can read read more here.  The article “Recent Increases in Human Pressure and Forest Loss Threaten Many Natural World Heritage Sites” by James Allan and colleagues appears in Biological ConservationVolume 206, February 2017 (doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.12.011).

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Caledonian pine forest saved

An ancient pine forest has been bought by a local community after a race against time to raise the funds.

Loch Arkaig pine forest, near Spean Bridge in the Highlands, was used for commando training in the Second World War and found more recent exposure as a movie location.  It was put up for sale under the National Forest Land Scheme, giving community organisations first refusal to buy land where it can provide a public benefit.  The sale had to be completed earlier this year or the forest’s owner, Forest Enterprise Scotland, could have sold it on the open market.

Woodland Trust Scotland partnered with Arkaig Community Forest — a small group of local residents who share ambitious plans for the 2,500-acre site — and managed to raise the £500,000 needed in time.  Gary Servant, of Arkaig Community Forest, said:

“This is a great moment. The land has been bought and we have a fantastic opportunity to work together to restore these native woodlands and to reconnect local people with their forests.”

One of the most significant areas of remaining Caledonian pine forest, Loch Arkaig will be the largest ancient woodland restoration undertaken by the Woodland Trust on land directly under its care.

The forest is home to wild boar, sea eagles, golden eagles, ospreys, pine martens and deer among many other species.  The partnership between Woodland Trust Scotland and Arkaig Community Forest has the dual aim of restoring the forest and stimulating sustainable economic activity.  It is hoped that the local economy can benefit from wildlife tourism and the development of businesses using products from the forest.


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Our recent work

Over the last 3 months the work of the Forest of Avon has included:

  • Delivering the first phase of our 2017 accredited training programme, also working with the Forestry Commission at Westonbirt to run two Outdoor First Aid courses for their staff in May;
  • Running the Woodland Skills project for adults with learning disabilities at Splatt’s Abbey Wood. Attended by 13 adults, activities included: coppicing, dead-hedging, putting up bird-boxes, laying bark chippings on muddy paths and making bird feeders. The feedback from those attending and the local Friends group has been very positive. Bristol College staff emphasised how much calmer students were compared to in classroom. Thanks to the Quartet Community Foundation for the funding. Woodland Skills is part of our wider Woodland Wellbeing programme;
  • Promoting free tree packs to 74 primary schools in Bristol and Avon for the Woodland Trust. So far, 21 schools have taken up the packs;
  • Reviewing tree planting opportunities in primary school grounds in Bristol, Avon and Swindon for the Defra funded school planting scheme. So far, 11 schools have been visited and 850 trees planted;
  • Completing the final phase of the Colliter’s Wood planting, with 1,000 trees planted with 25 OVO and UWE volunteers linked to OVO’s I Dig Trees project;
  • Planting school orchards at St. Stephen’s Junior and Park Primary Schools in Kingswood, making 12 this winter/ spring;
  • Working with the Friends of Page Park and South Gloucestershire Council to fund 33 feature trees in this important park in Staple Hill and planting others in Felicity Park in Warmley;
  • Delivering the Woodland Skills project funded by the OVO Foundation. Recent activities have included the planting at Colliter’s Wood and training days at Manor Woods (Malago Valley), Stockwood and Ridge Wood (Yate). A big thank you to the 3 UWE volunteers who helped with these;
  • Laying half of the roadside hedgerow at The Retreat community woodland, funded by a Lottery Awards for All grant; and
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European Tree of the Year

The Welsh entry in the European Tree of the Year poll, the Brimmon Oak, finished in 2nd place, which is the UK’s best ever finish it seems – much better than our Eurovision efforts of late.  The oak tree was only 1,394 votes behind the Polish winner, ‘Oak Jozef’.  This is how we did:

  • 1st – Oak Jósef, Poland – 17,597 votes
  • 2nd – Brimmon Oak, Wales – 16,203 votes
  • 5th – Sycamore Gap tree, England – 7,123 votes
  • 6th – Holm Oak, Northern Ireland – 7,101 votes
  • 8th – Ding Dong Tree, Scotland – 6,327 votes

You can see the full results here.

Becky Speight, Woodland Trust CEO, said:

“The UK is rightly renowned for having some of the best examples of ancient trees in Europe, so it’s good to see them finally achieving recognition in the competition.   There is now an opportunity to secure better protection for them following the publication of the housing white paper and we need the public to help us make it happen.”

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An ancient forest shed light on sun spots 290m years ago

A story in the Economist reports the work of Ludwig Luthardt and Ronny Rössler of the Natural History Museum of Chemnitz, Germany, who have been able to apply the tree-ring aging method to petrified trunks from a fossil forest that was buried by a volcanic eruption 290m years ago, during the Permian period.  As they report in Geology, Mr Luthardt and Dr Rössler have found that the sunspot cycle was little different then from what it is now.

The Economist says that the Chemnitz fossil trees, mostly conifers and ferns, are particularly well preserved.  Volcanic minerals seeped into them soon after the eruption and petrified them before bacteria and fungi could rot them. Mr Luthardt and Dr Rössler found 1,917 rings which were in a good enough state to be measured under a microscope and were stunned by how clearly they could see the cycles.

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The international urban trees research conference

The international urban trees research conference is taking place today and tomorrow at the University of Birmingham. 






This is a collaborative event that brings together professionals of forestry, arboriculture, and other built environment and environmental disciplines, to hear ground breaking international research on urban foresting.  

There are two themes for 2017:

  • Roads to Place – Why trees are an integral part of highway transport design
  • The Health Crisis – The role of trees in improving human health (Mental, physical, social and cultural)

Details are here.

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How to draw trees

The Woodland Trust has a feature on drawing trees by botanical artist, Vivien Wilson.

Vivien has spent the last 17 years painting the trees, fruits, blossoms and plants that surround her home in the Derbyshire countryside.  Her paintings range from the most majestic trees to the smallest snowdrops and bluebells found under their canopies. …

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