So with things being so hectic, it was nice on Tuesday to take a day out at Dillington House near Ilminster, to see Dr Duncan Slater presenting his latest research into fork and branch structure, and some other information on the way trees interact with their environment. This work is fascinating, and it is Duncan’s intention to change the way we look at the’ weak spot’ in trees. In fact forks are nothing of the sort, they are actually the strongest structure in a tree, and have some remarkable adaptations to help keep that structure intact. The wood is denser and the grain convoluted to cope with the movement of individual stems.
Trees also use their own branches to brace forks, and this can lead to problems in the future
Dr Duncan Slater showing us natural bracing in a Yew
His work has helped Arboriculturalists to better understand the way trees are held together, and to make us reinterpret some of the things we see when we are surveying trees. Not all lumps and bumps on a tree are bad, in fact some of them are positively good news!!
Duncan has produced an interesting introduction video, with as you will realise, an incredibly appropriate soundtrack at this link:
If you want to see him in action, he is nearly at the end of his tour, but check the Arboricultural Association website for places:
Wednesday and Thursday saw Ryan Foster, amongst others, putting the finishing touches to his apprenticeship. Here he is, below, setting up, using and then dismantling a rigging kit for us, for the last time.
As with all apprentices, although it will be sad to see Ryan go, it is great to see his career taking off, and him enjoying his work and achieving his apprenticeship. It is a lot of hard work, and very well earned so….
Friday saw Kat and Joe from Glendale putting the last bits to the dreaded tree portfolio. Although they have only been on the apprenticeship for a year, they are well on target to finish early. We have a few more units to work through, but the bulk of the hard work is done, a nice situation to be in.
We should meet up again in a few weeks time, and at that point we will be nearly finished.
FOCUS on………. Rainforest
Ok, so most people’s idea of rainforest is a steamy jungle in Asia, or maybe the Amazon. But you may be surprised to know, that here in the Southwest, we are surrounded by them.
Because of the cleanliness of the air in these rainforests, and the high moisture, it allows delicate plants such as fruticose lichens and ferns to thrive. Lichens have different body forms, some are flat and crusty and some, like the fruticose one shown above, are thin, wispy beard like structures. Generally the more wispy a lichen is, the less likely it is to tolerate air pollution, so clean moist air is essential for these types to thrive…. and thrive they do, some trees in these forests are smothered in them. Take a trip to Wistman’s Wood on Dartmoor, and you will see luxuriant lichen growth. As well as air pollution, they are also very sensitive to touch, and changes to humidity, so you should not go into this wood, but just take photographs from outside. Lichens are what is called a ‘symbiotic’ organism. They are a fungus, with a photosynthetic alga living within their structure. The two together form a very successful partnership, and it is estimated colonise about 6% of the Earth. They have even been sent into space, exposed to the intense cold, with no atmosphere and high radiation levels, and brought back to earth and found to be perfectly ok- pretty good survivors..… and talking of survivors, the Royal Fern hasn’t changed much in about 180 million years, it still grows in these forests, you often find it in the wetter places and by the rivers.
These forests really have been overlooked for centuries, and only now are they being studied, and given the recognition and conservation status they so richly deserve. As with all stories about trees in this country, man has taken a toll on the forest. Not only are they much smaller in size than they used to be, but quite a few of the inhabitants have been driven to extinction. To recognise the special status of these forests is a good start, once you recognise something is special, it gives a good reason to preserve it. It would be nice to think they would still be around in another 9000 years.
A great book on this is:
The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland- A Traveller’s Guide by Clifton Bain ISBN: 978-1-910124-26-0
It’s a great guide, and will allow the reader to find, explore and enjoy temperate rainforest across Britain and Ireland.
I’ll bet most people will never have thought that you could go and see a rainforest, just by going to Dartmoor!
Happy Tenth Birthday!!!!
She’s pictured above in her favourite piece of Dartmoor temperate rainforest- she’s spent most of the ten years walking these woods and she knows them better than me!
The photo was taken by Chris Weedon, recently successful Apprentice, who as well as being a qualified Arborist, is also a professional photographer, so many thanks to him for such a lovely memento.
There’s just a hint of autumn in some of the trees, I think some of them have been tricked by the cool spells of weather, and for that matter so was I, until it soared into the 20’s today!
Having said that, it is late August, and autumn proper will be upon us shortly. Time to get out foraging for mushrooms again!!