Woodlands: past, present and future

A couple of years ago, while working towards the Queen’s Guide Award (open to UK Girlguiding members aged 16-26), I carried out a research project on woodland management, with a focus on the use of coppicing.

Prior to the project, I knew very little about woodlands and I found out lots of things that brushed away misconceptions I previously held: that most woodlands in the UK were “wild” until recently, and that industry has led to massive destruction of woodland. In fact, virtually all UK woodlands have been carefully managed for centuries and historically, industry tended to protect woodlands by ensuring there was always demand for wood products.

For the project I produced a report that I am now adapting into a series of blog posts. More posts will follow and will cover topics not discussed in my original report. My intention is to publish one a month for the next few months so keep on returning for updates!

Coppicing: conserving ancient woodland with active management

A hazel coppice stool in Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe

If you visit an ancient woodland in Europe at this time of year, you may well see small areas where the trees are being cut down to the base, but the stumps left behind. This is likely to be part of a traditional woodland practice called coppicing. Until about 150 years ago, most deciduous woodlands in the UK were coppiced to produce wood for use in a variety of industries, but today coppicing is largely only practised for woodland conservation. Read more…

Industry: old friend of woodlands

Image by UKGardenPhotos via flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Like many of the environments we call “natural”, woodlands in the UK and Europe have actually been shaped and changed by humans. Most have been carefully managed for centuries to produce wood, a valuable resource with many uses. In many regions, woodland has been relatively scarce for a long time, and woods tended to be owned either by individuals or the communities that maintained them. Read more…

Lower Wood: the changing face of an ancient woodland

Fresh snow in Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe, February 2012. Photo by S. Shailes. CC BY 4.0

Lower Wood in Ashwellthorpe is one of the few remaining ancient woodlands in Norfolk. Today, the wood is about 100 acres in size, which is only a small remnant of its recorded size in the Domesday Book of 1086. Having been managed for centuries to produce wood for local industry, the last 50 years have seen the wood undergo many changes and face new challenges. Read more…

The next threat to ash trees in Europe

1200px-Fraxinus_excelsior_002As you may know, Europe’s ash trees are at war with a fungus that causes the disease ash dieback. But even as the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) fights this enemy, there is another threat that is already decimating ash trees in North America – the emerald ash borer beetle. Read more…


3 thoughts on “Woodlands: past, present and future

  1. Pingback: Industry: old friend of woodlands | Plant Scientist

  2. Pingback: Lower Wood: the changing face of an ancient woodland | Plant Scientist

  3. Pingback: The next threat to ash trees in Europe | Plant Scientist

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