Since 2012 I have been a visiting researcher at Plant Sciences Department, University of Oxford. My main areas of work include analysis of long-term woodland change particularly at Wytham Woods and the Warburg Reserve, Oxfordshire and an interest in rewilding.
From 1979 to 2012 I was forestry and woodland officer with NCC/English Nature/Natural England, advising on a wide range of woodland conservation policy and practice issues.
My original degree was in Agricultural and Forest Sciences followed by a D.Phil studying brambles. I put my interest in woodland down to being born behind a pub in Essex called The Woodman.
In 1979 what we wanted to conserve, was, very largely, the landscapes of trees and woods, inherited from 1879. We were pretty sure that if we could just put back something like traditional management, we could achieve this. We made good progress in stopping farmers and foresters clearing/coniferising trees and woods and designated important areas – so why didn’t it work?
Change is inevitable, but in the short term (ten years) we should continue to conserve the legacy of the past in most sites so we do not reduce the pool of species from which future patterns can emerge.
Do we need more bigger areas where conservation is the primary goal, and put less effort into conservation alongside productive use of land? At what scale should land sparing/land sharing take place?
Who should decide what wildlife legacy we hand-on? Will expert opinion continue to be acceptable, or will the countryside in 2079 be determined by Twitter-feed?
Dr. Stephanie Wray is an environmental consultant and the President of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. As a consultant, she has over 20 years’ experience in the ecological impact assessment of major projects. She is also a community and evolutionary ecologist with research interests in the niche dynamics of sympatric herbivores and the conservation ecology of bats. Her career has spanned research, teaching and consultancy and she currently holds non-executive directorships with specialist ecology firms Biocensus and Tyler Grange.
John has a lifetime's experience in ground breaking, leadership roles in forestry, wildlife conservation, natural resources research and management, and training in Argentina and the UK. He has worked for the IUCN, WWF International, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria and the Royal Forestry Society. He has published extensively, specialising in knowledge transfer material for outreaching, websites and e-bulletins. From 1989-2012, he ran the RFS and oversaw their Professional Diploma and Cert Arb. He writes for Forestry Journal/Essential Arb, compiles the RFS e-news, runs his own woodlands, is on various IUCN groups and was a founder member of the CIEEM.
Jim is an ecologist and arboriculturist with a particular interest in bats and veteran trees. Originally trained in ecology, Jim has been conducting bat research for the past 11 years. Whilst working in ecological consultancy, Jim retrained in arboriculture. This lead to him working as an arboriculturist in local government, and more recently, for the Ancient Tree Forum. Jim also runs his own consultancy, which specialises in providing training on bats.
The UK is home to 17 species of bats, 15 of which are known to roost in trees. With all UK bat species, and their roosts, receiving legal protection, the potential presence of bats is an important consideration for arboriculturists when specifying or conducting tree work.
Guidance for surveying for bats in trees exists for the arboricultural, forestry and ecological industries; the most recent addition is the British Standard 8596 – Surveying for bats in trees and woodland.
Research was undertaken to improve our knowledge of how bats use trees for roosting. This comprised monthly checks of potential roosting features on a range of trees. These inspections aimed to identify roost sites, investigate bat species present, numbers of bats, the nature of the roost as well as identifying how this changes throughout the year.
The findings were often surprising, and provide a useful insight to this little researched topic. Long-held assumptions are challenged in the light of this new evidence, including: the types of trees used by bats, the effectiveness of field signs and how frequently bats were encountered in roosts.
Overall the results highlight the difficulties in performing robust surveys, and identify short comings in current industry guidance.
Paul is an Evidence Specialist for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). His work focuses on understanding resilience, particularly in the context of forestry and tree health. He is also investigating the use of DNA barcoding in biodiversity monitoring, and is involved with citizen science programmes to provide UK-scale data on species and ecosystems.
Prior to joining JNCC, Paul was a researcher at Bangor University investigating approaches to synthesising environmental evidence, and completed a Ph.D. on tropical forest ecology at the University of Leeds.
Pests and pathogens are an increasing threat to trees and woodlands, and to the associated biodiversity and ecosystem services. In the UK and elsewhere, a key sector response has been investment in producing trees that are resistant to specific pests and pathogens. However, there are several options for developing and deploying resistant trees, and the process can be time-consuming and complex. As part of the Future-Proofing Plant Health programme funded by Defra, we investigated and summarised knowledge on these options and considerations.
We first identified six stages in resistant tree programmes, from initial scoping through to post-deployment monitoring, and for each stage discuss strengths and weaknesses of different options. This framework can be used to inform decisions and approaches to proposed and ongoing resistant tree programmes. We then describe several international case studies that provide examples of the motivations, approaches, and challenges in the development and deployment of resistant trees in different settings. Building on this exercise, we discuss important considerations in resistant tree programmes, including timescales and costs, the durability of resistance, and stakeholder demand. We conclude by highlighting characteristics of relatively successful resistant tree programmes, and by providing a perspective on if, where, and how, resistant trees could contribute to strategies to mitigate impacts from pests and pathogens.
Guy Meilleur is an ISA Board-Certified Master Arborist, and a former Utility, Municipal, and Tree Climber Specialist. An Instructor at Duke University and author of 34 Detective Dendro episodes, he’s an international advocate for the Veteran Tree Network. England is the final stop of a ten-week tree tour around the world.
Guy chaired the US Tree Inspection Standard committee, vice-chaired ISA's Educational Goods and Services Committee, supports online education through HistoricTreeCare.com, and practices root invigoration, pruning, and support and lightning system installation. 2017 marks Guy’s 51st year of growing tree value and climbing trees as an antidote to aging.
Myths abound around the mysteries in hollow trees. Some see evil inside, in others a safe haven. Hollowing benefits trees by recycling waste products, losing weight, and gaining flexibility. Aging trees rejuvenate by recycling inner and outer parts, and growing new branches and roots closer to the core.
How can arborists specify cooperative, non-interventional activity to facilitate this cycle? For trunks and roots, soil near soft spots is replaced to favor compartmentalisation and root regeneration. Struggling roots are transfused with active roots from young trees.
For branches, outward growth extends lever arms and increases risk. Interior growth is the objective. Cuts to small laterals and buds often work better. Laterals “should be fairly upright...Old trees that are of low vigor and have failing branches can often be kept healthy and attractive by removing the weak-growing and dying limbs in their extremities, particularly their tops.”
It doesn’t take much—a 15% reduction can increase stability by 50%, in trees and branches. Thinking in ‘tree time’, arborists avoid snap judgments, apply age-appropriate guidelines, and conserve historic trees.
We’ll look at professional tree crown regeneration around the world. Henry Davis III pioneered Structural Pruning in the US; his specifications for hollow trees include:
With minimal wounding comes maximum closure. The biology surrounding this practice works. Tree Care Standards from the UK, US, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan inform and support it. The budget works too. A second dose may be needed in 5-10 years, but maybe not! Seeing trees respond with regeneration, tree owners and managers learn to facilitate, and trust, the tree.
All we are saying: Give Trees a Chance!
Founder member and President of the Ancient Tree Forum and Honorary Vice President of the International Tree Foundation. He was awarded an MBE in recognition for his work in conservation especially trees and fungi. He was awarded an honorary lectureship by Imperial College, University of London for his outstanding contribution as a technician to science and education. He was given the Arboricultural Association Annual Award for his services to arboriculture. Ted was named one of the 100 Environmental Earthshakers of all time in the Guardian newspaper in 2006. Awarded the Gold medal by The Royal Forestry Society for services to forestry. Ted has worked for Natural England as Conservation Liaison Officer to the Crown Estates at Windsor and later became and remains their Conservation Consultant. Ted is a regular writer, broadcaster and speaks regularly at international conferences on ancient trees, Fungi .wood pasture and parkland.
Is the past the key to the future?
Ancient trees, Ancient soils, organics and grafts. With the ever increasing threats to our trees for whatever reason can they help us?. Should we be considering the methods used in the past to grow our trees and the treatment of our soils as part of trying to understand the reasons for the sudden [in tree time] rise in their susceptibility to pests and diseases. Also as a precaution begin a program of grafting from our surviving ancient trees as gene banks as a precaution for the future when ‘ Science catches up’. Returning to Organic tree nurseries is fundamental.
Ben is the Trees & Woodland Advisor for the National Trust in the SW. In this role he helps support National Trust properties in the region with managing their woodlands and providing advice on Tree safety management, amongst other things. Before this role he was part of a National Trust Ranger Team in Cornwall for over 10 years managing a range of woodlands. During this time Ben undertook an MSc in Forestry by distance learning and over the years has have developed a keen interest in Veteran and ancient trees in all locations.
The National Trust property at Ethy which lies on a tributary to the Fowey estuary in Cornwall places host to a small but varied treescape. It includes established parkland, newly restored wood pasture, PAWS (plantation on ancient woodland sites) and ancient semi natural woodland. Ethy has particularly important lichen communities associated with the veteran tree communities, and the vulnerability of these trees in the face of ever increasing biosecurity threats is creating testing management challenges. Further pressures are brought on by more regular extreme weather events. Part of the site is in a Higher Level Stewardship agri-environment scheme agreement, with works included in this focusing on the further restoration of the wood pasture and grazing. Coupled with the demands of public access, there is a requirement to focus more on how to balance these issues going in to the future. It also raises the questions around whether we are doing enough?
The main biosecurity threats exist in the forms of:
Dan Alder is a Dorset based ecologist and p/t research student within the Conservation Biology and Ecology Division, Manchester Metropolitan University. For 12 years Dan worked as an ecologist for Dorset County Council providing technical support across the functions of the local authority as part of a multidisciplinary team which included Tree Officers, Archaeologists and Landscape Officers. Previously Dan was part of the authority’s Conservation Field Team which provided specialist practical conservation services including the management of several SSSI’s. In 2008 Dan gained an MSc in Countryside Management at MMU. He originally worked at Reading University’s Botanic gardens studying at Merrist Wood for his National Certificate in Horticulture.
Irregular high forest management, a form of continuous cover forestry is generating considerable interest in the UK forestry sector where it is mainly associated with coniferous stands. However, very little is known of the effects on biodiversity when even-aged or neglected stands are restructured through selection felling to become uneven aged and more varied in character. The focus of our study was to identify the response of a range of taxa which included the woodland bird community and vegetation across a large tract (c.440ha) of ancient, semi-natural broadleaf woodland in Cranborne Chase, on the Dorset Wiltshire border. Much of this woodland was historically managed as coppice to support the production of firewood and materials used in agriculture, especially hazel hurdles for folding of sheep and to provide building materials for thatching and wattle and daub. Despite the strong cultural significance of traditional coppicing the economic return has dwindled over the last 100 years and today only with specialist niche markets and grant intervention is coppicing viable here. As such only around 15% of the broadleaf woodland in our study remains in cycle as coppice while more than 60 ha are neglected and the remainder are undergoing transformation to high forest management. The ancient woodland here is recognised as being of biological importance through designation as a site of special scientific interest and a challenge is to retain the biodiversity interests while ensuring some economic productivity. The recent introduction of irregular high forest management to over 70 hectares of the broadleaf woodland provides a unique opportunity in the UK to explore a how different woodland species respond to a novel silvicultural application. We are not aware of any similar work in the UK and in addition to presenting results from our fieldwork on woodland birds our study also looks at the responses of other taxa which we discuss.
Sam’s background is in forestry, arboriculture and practical habitat management. Since completing an MSc in Environmental Conservation at the University of Greenwich, he has moved into ecological consultation and environmental impact assessment. His current role is with Balfour Beatty PLC as an Environmental and Sustainability Manager working on large scale infrastructure projects.
The common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius L) is a small arboreal mammal native to Britain. It is often regarded as a ‘bio-indicator’ species due to its varied resource requirements, traditionally understood to be structurally and florally diverse broadleaf woodland. Dormice receive full protection under British and European law making it an offense to kill, capture or disturb dormice or to disturb or destroy a site in which they rest. The accurate identification of dormouse presence on a site has ecological and legal significance.
The most common technique for identifying presence and population monitoring is through the use of artificial nests. These tend to be placed at 1.5 – 2m above the ground to allow ease of access for researchers; This is convenient for the surveyors but, as it is generally thought dormice avoid coming down to the ground and are most active in the canopy, does this really give accurate results?
This project investigated height selection in nest box use by dormice and trials a method for identifying a correlation between habitat features and box occupancy. Pairs and trios of nesting boxes were placed at 1.5m and at varied heights >3m on a variety of trees in a woodland with a proven dormouse population. Canopy access was achieved using Double Rope Technique (DRT). The nest boxes were surveyed once a month for three months to check for signs of use. Nest box locations was recorded using a Leica Geosystems® Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and was layered with survey data in a GIS using Google Earth® for analysis. A detailed vegetation and canopy structure assessment was made of a 10m radial circle around a sample of the nest boxes and nest construction and composition analysed.
The Knepp Estate is a 3,500-acre estate in lowland Sussex – the land clayey and wet. When the current owner, Charlie Burrell, inherited the estate many years back, as a young, agriculturally trained heir with responsibility to make the estate pay for itself, he threw all the things he had learned about modern farming at this land, including fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and modern machinery. Despite concerted effort the farming failed to turn a profit and it was after meeting Ted, who introduced him to some new ideas and options for diversification, that Charlie started to look at this asset in an entirely different way.
Having visited the Oostvaardersplassen re-wilding project in Holland with Ted and Jill Butler of the Woodland Trust, Charlie began to research what kind of ecology would have existed on his land in centuries past and, slowly but surely, he and his team of supporters have stopped all conventional farming and turned the estate into the largest re-wilded area in lowland Britain. There are now free-ranging Tamwoth pigs (the closest to wild boar that could be introduced), wild horses, deer of all kinds and Longhorn cattle (the closest to aurochs, which would naturally have been there, but without the aggressive behaviour). They have stopped short of wolves and one or two other species but all have free range of 3,500 acres, 7 km from end to end, and the land is now effectively managed by the animals and the ecology that they bring with them, allowing vegetation to be browsed, wet areas to be boggy and many new species of all shapes and sizes to find their home there.
The land is also home to a good number of exceptional veteran trees.