Monthly Archives: August 2017

Report on the effectiveness of Wildlife Corridors

The idea of a wildlife corridor to aid conservation (or at least slow extinctions)  is not new, but how effective are they?   The New York Times recently carried a report on a new paper [*] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which scientists have tried to quantify how a wildlife corridor strategy might be used to slow extinction rates in two biodiversity hot spots, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil and the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania.

Clinton Jenkins, an ecologist at the Institute for Ecological Research in Brazil and a co-author of the study, said:

“We’ve known for a while that fragmentation elevates extinction rates and that these corridors can help, but we wanted to take that data and figure out what we’d actually gain by putting these forests back together.”

The Times has more detail on this story.

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* Targeted habitat restoration can reduce extinction rates in fragmented forests.

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Larch disease at Castell Coch

Monday’s Times reported that Welsh environmental authorities have ordered 4,000 trees that are infected with larch disease to be felled around Castell Coch near Cardiff.

Phytophthora ramorum (larch tree disease) is a fungus-like pathogen that causes extensive damage and kills a wide range of trees and other plants.  Gareth Roberts, Local Area Manager from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said,

“We know that Forest Fawr is well loved by the community and we want to reassure people that we will do everything we can to minimise any disruption from these works.  Although it is some time off, we are already planning the harvesting in two phases, so we can always keep areas of the forest open for people to use, and so we can minimise the impact on protected species and the local wildlife.  It is upsetting that we have to remove the trees, but we know the forest will still be a wonderful place for people to visit in the future.  We will continue to work with local businesses and interest groups to keep them up to date as our plans progress, and during the harvesting work.”

Currently, there are no plans for a replanting programme as Natural Resources Wales [NRW] said that the work would encourage native species to regenerate:

“After the harvesting has taken place, NRW will encourage native species such as beech, oak, birch, wild cherry, rowan and hazel in the forest to naturally regenerate. NRW will monitor the regeneration in the forest over the following years before considering if any replanting is required.”

If this doesn’t produce the required species or density of trees, NRW says it will look at restocking the site.  Anna McMorrin, the Cardiff North MP, is leading a petition on Change.org demanding that the trees be replaced.

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An open invitation to regain a sense of awe

A new book from photographer Robert Llewellyn and scientist Joan Maloof encourages readers to study the forest, and not just look at it.  The Mother Nature Network has a review of the book by Angela Nelson.  She begins:

“You might think that after 50 years of photographing plants and trees, photographer Robert Llewellyn has seen it all in the great outdoors.  But when he talks about nature and spending time in the forest for his latest book, he does so with a youthful exuberance and a sense of awe.  … That sense of awe carries through in his newest work, “The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods,” for which Llewellyn shot the photos.

The accompanying text was written by Joan Maloof, a scientist and founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network.  The essays and images aim to place the reader in the center of the woods, encouraging them to get immersed in the living ecosystems both large and small all around.”

There are some stunning pictures.

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Young People Getting to Know Local Woodlands

We are working with 10 secondary schools across the area and taking  young people with a range of physical and learning needs to visit a local woodland to learn about the woodland environment and acquire new skills. Funded by the Ernest Cook Trust activities have included improving paths for visitors, trying woodland crafts and perhaps best of all, toasting marshmallows.

This work (thanks to the Ernest Cook Trust) is part of our wider suite of ‘Woodland Wellbeing’ projects which are bringing the considerable benefits of woodland activities to a growing range of people in the Bristol area. To find out more about what we do, please email Nicola Ramsden at: wellbeing@forestofavontrust.org

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Conservation 21

Natural England’s strategy to protect England’s nature and landscapes – “for people to enjoy and the ecosystem services they provide” – was published late last year, since when there does not seem to have been much comment on it.  You can download it here.

It says that the government’s ambition is for England to be a great place to live, with a healthy natural environment on land and at sea that benefits people and the economy.  The strategy sets out Natural England’s thinking about what we need to do differently and how we need to work with others, to better deliver this shared ambition.  The strategy’s 3 guiding principles are to:

  • create resilient landscapes and seas
  • put people at the heart of the environment
  • grow natural capital

Here’s an extract:

“Conservation 21 represents fundamental change in how our teams will be organised and what they will do. We already organise our local delivery work around the most important landscapes, or focus areas. We will set our objectives in these areas at a level and scale that enables and drives creativity and integration of our delivery work. We will use our regulatory levers more strategically, and therefore more sparingly at the site or scheme level. Our operational principles will mean we start from a position of trust in our partners. Our people will provide expertise and evidence, and rather than focus on enforcement, be skilled in working with partners, operating credibly at a senior level with business and planning sectors.”

The words forest, tree and wood are not mentioned.

 

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