Do you know your fungi?

The Woodland Trust has published a summary of the 9 most common UK fungi.  It begins:

Fungi are a huge and fascinating kingdom with over 15000 species in the UK.  They live on land, in the water, in the air, and even in and on plants and animals.  They vary widely in size and form, from the microscopically small to the largest organisms on Earth (at several square miles large).  Mushrooms (or toadstools) is a term given to the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies that certain fungi produce.  Here are nine common mushrooms that you may come across.

It then warns:

Please be aware that fungi can be deadly poisonous – don’t use this blog to identify them for culinary use.

For greater reassurance you might think Wild Food UK would be good, but even this says:

“If you are identifying mushrooms please use multiple sources of identification and never eat anything unless you are 100% sure what it is.  We will not be held responsible for the use of the information in this website.”

Which reminds us of the wise Swedish saying:

There are old mushroom eaters, bold mushroom eaters, but never old, bold mushroom eaters.

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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.


* 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 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:

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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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A tree city in China

The Independent recently reported the construction of one of the world’s first ‘forest cities’, designed by Stefano Boeri, who also designed two vertical skyscraper ‘forests’.  The city is currently under construction in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province.

Once completed, the new city will house some  30,000 people and will absorb almost 10,000 tons of CO2, 57 tons of pollutants per year and produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen.  The Independent says that the city will achieve all this thanks to roughly a million plants from over 100 species, as well as 40,000 trees being planted in facades over almost every surface imaginable.
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A world tree record

The Independent reported recently that volunteers in India planted more than 66 million trees in just 12 hours.  About 1.5 million people were involved in the campaign, in which saplings were placed along the Narmada river in the state of Madhya Pradesh.  India committed under the Paris Agreement to increasing its forests by five million hectares before 2030 to combat climate change.  Observers from Guinness World Records monitored Sunday’s plantation and are expected to confirm in the coming weeks that the effort set a new record.  The campaign was organised by the Madhya Pradesh government, with 24 districts of the Narmada river basin chosen as planting sites to increase the saplings’ chances of survival.  Volunteers planted more than 20 different species of trees.

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Fruit-full Communities

The Fruit-full Communities project is working with thousands of young people living in or attending YMCA and Foyer centres across England and Wales, helping them gain confidence, learn new horticultural and arboricultural skills and improve their local environment by planting and nurturing orchards.  19 YMCA and Foyer sites accross England will be planting orchards this year.   Click here to learn who they are and what plans they have. To find out more about the Fruit-full Comunities project and see how successful our first year has been please click here.

The Fruit-full Communities project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, is part of a new initiative called Our Bright Future.

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July news update

This is a summary of the work of the Trust over the last three months:

  • Running accredited Outdoor First Aid training courses for Forestry Commission volunteers based at Westonbirt: The National Arboretum. These were very well received and we intend to run more site-based training in the future;
  • Responding to strong interest in our summer training courses. Both the Level 1: Introduction to Forest School Principles and the Level 3: Forest School Leaders’ courses are full and our Outdoor First Aid course only has a couple of places left (at the time of writing!);
  • Running a successful team- building activity for staff of long- term sponsor: Whitehall Printing, to help them celebrate their 40th anniversary;
  • Growing our partnership with Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service to now run 2 wellbeing groups for people with dementia and their carers at Conham River Park and in Kings Weston woods;
  • Working with 8 different secondary schools 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;
  • Running Forest Fridays in collaboration with Bristol Community Rehabilitation Service. This is an 8 week Woodland Wellbeing project for people living with mental health needs and as well as making woodland tools and environmental art, participants have also foraged for and cooked wild ingredients;
  • Visiting 13 schools in Swindon and Bristol & Avon for the Defra- funded Trees for Learning project. This is focused on helping primary-aged children better understand the importance of trees; Working with primary schools in Bristol & Avon to support the uptake of Woodland Trust tree packs as part of their Defra- funded Trees for Schools project;
  • Training 18 volunteers in veteran tree recognition and recording at Ashton Court as part of our Veteran Tree project;
  • Delivering the final training of the OVO Foundation funded Woodland Skills project providing woodland management skills for local groups. 12 people got actively involved in charcoal making at Wick Golden Valley Local Nature Reserve;
  • Starting work on the Woodlands of Bathscape Report, to inform the full BathscapeLandscape Partnership HLF application; and
  • Continuing to grow our presence on Twitter and Facebook and through posting regular tree and woodland news on our website.
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