News about projects, activities and events carried out by Forest Research Technical Services Unit (TSU).
Whitebeam (Sorbus Aria) Survey
The team at Ae have been commissioned to undertake a Whitebeam survey on the Isle of Arran on behalf of SNH commencing 5th December 2005.
UK Habitat Action Plan Survey (South Scotland)
Ae Field Station have undertaken Habitat Surveys to record the UKBAP Priority and Broad Habitat Types mainly within Galloway, Scottish Borders and Ae Forest Districts, reporting in March 2006.
Helping improve native woodland cover
Field Station staff at Exeter are undertaking surveys which will aid Peninsula Forest District to transform and improve the woodlands in the Blackdowns. The information gathered will help determine which conifers are to be removed and replaced with native broadleaf species.
Phytophthora survey work
The next stage of this work is underway and locations originally visited by Technical Services Unit (TSU) Exeter between January and March 2004 are being re-surveyed.
Rhododendron survey in Cornwall
Exeter Field Station staff are undertaking a second intensive woodland survey looking at rhododendron across Cornwall to try and measure progress (if any) of Phytopthora ramoram and kernoviae. Our latest equipment allows immediate on-site testing of any suspect materials for the two Phytophthora.
Newton Field Station have been asked to identify sites for the establishment of new populations of the Biodiversity Action Plan priority species Small Cow-wheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum). Fraser McBirnie will assess the suitability of sites in Perthshire over the summer. Small Cow-wheat is a nationally scarce plant, recorded only on a small number of sites across the country.
Timber extraction and Twinflower
Newton Field Station, Forest Research Ecology Division (now Centre for Human and Ecological Sciences) and Plantlife have instigated a new trial to test whether is it possible to assist the vegetative spread of Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) by skidder extraction of timber within a Scots pine forest. Twinflower is classified as a nationally scarce plant, which has suffered a 64% decline from pre-1970 records. The trial will begin in late summer on four sites in North Scotland.
Forest Research has teamed up with Plantlife and SNH to carry out a detailed Juniper survey with the aim of ensuring that this priority conservation species is protected and expanded throughout Scotland. Fraser and Steg McBirnie have commenced the monitoring in North Perthshire and Highland regions.
Atlantic Oakwood Project
Stephen O'kane has continued his involvement in year three of the Atlantic Oakwood project at Ardtornish Estate. Working with Forestry Commission staff, Technical Development and Jake Willis from the Sunart Oakwoods Initiative, Stephen has helped with Contract management and construction of an extraction track and thinning. He will now implement fixed point and hemispherical photography to measure light levels following thinning, then undertake natural regeneration and vegetation assessment to monitor change.
Biological control of Pine weevil
Biological control of Pine weevil continues this month in North Scotland and also in Wales where INTERREG funding has been secured to further develop the project. Hugh Mackay spent a week in Wales introducing the project and training a new team of operators.
Adaptive Variation in Ash
Ash seed of native origin has been collected from 42 stands across Britain by staff from TSU Field Stations. The collection represents a good sample of the range of genetic diversity within the native population of ash. The aim is to establish four trials in contrasting parts of the country in order to examine the level of variation that exists within the native ash population and also to what extent ash can alter to suit an environment which is different from its origin.
Northern Periphery Programme (NPP)
As part of a NPP Project, Alistair MacLeod (Newton Field Station) is accompanying Alan Harrison from the Centre for Forest Resources and Management on a tour of all Forest Research experiments on the Northern and Western Isles, including North Uist, Hoy and Shetland.
The project will pilot community-based strategic planning in a specific sub-region of the western highlands involving community and local stakeholders at every level, focussing on how new and existing forests can be established and managed to optimise their long-term contribution to rural development. This will be achieved through the adoption of alternatives to clearfell, more varied species choice, provision of recreational facilities and landscape enhancement.
Native Woodland Survey for Scotland (NWSS)
TSU staff from Newton and Ae Field Stations are undertaking a series of pilot surveys to test the protocol for a large scale, long term survey of all native woodland in Scotland. The project will take place over the next 5 years and will be managed by Silvan House based Zoe Laird.
Nematodes in Wales
Biological control of Large pine weevil continues this month in North Scotland and also in Wales where INTERREG funding has been secured to further develop the project. Staff from Newton Field Station will spend a week training the new team in Wales and working with John Evans who has been appointed Nematode Application Unit Manager for the duration of the Welsh project.
The night shift
Members of TSU Alice Holt have been working through the night to view the world through different eyes. Using thermal imaging equipment to see through undergrowth they have been assessing numbers, size, sex, situation (in field and woods, lying, standing or walking) of Roe, Fallow and Muntjac deer. The survey paints an accurate picture of the deer population of an area and in this case is being used as part of a study into the diversification of Beech plantations in Hampshire.
ESC in the Forest of Dean
Six members of TSU from Alice Holt, Shobdon and Exeter travelled to the Forest of Dean for a three day training course in Ecological Site Classification (ESC). Run by Forestry Training Services, we were introduced to the basic concepts of ESC and how site characteristics including soil type, geology and flora could be used to define woodland type and suitable species selection for restocking or natural regeneration. The course comprised practical sessions out in the field; soil pits were dug and plant identification was carried out using a floral key, and the raw data was taken back to the classroom and assessed using the computerised ESC package. A thoroughly worth while course was enjoyed by all and TSU in the southern Field Stations look forward to putting into practice what was learnt.
Rare Lichen discovery
On a recent Lichens course at Kindrogan Field Centre Fraser McBirnie identified the notably rare Lichen Cladonia botrytes. The discovery was made at Curr wood close to Grantown-On-Spey. First discovered in Britain in 1955, this small species is known only on twelve sites across the country. Last recorded in 1997 and classified as Critically Endangered, the Lichen receives protection under the Wildlife & Countryside act 1981.
Marker Aided Selection
TSU Field stations at Talybont, Newton and Exeter are currently involved in setting up field trials with the specific objective of creating links between molecular markers (bands on gel) and extremes of desirable phenotypes in trees grown for timber (eg very high wood density, very good stem form and very good frost resistance).
A screening operation can be performed in the laboratory once the association between markers and desirable traits has been made as a result of the field experiments. Once individual trees have been identified which show markers for the traits of greatest economic importance these can be clonally multiplied.
The field experiments are currently being set up in Brechfa, Buchan and North Devon and are expected to run for 20 years.
Entomology Surveys of Scottish Forestry Alliance Sites
Duncan Williams from Newton Field Station has been contracted to undertake an entomology survey of the ten Scottish Forestry Alliance sites. The overall aim is to determine the entomological diversity at the sites, and the potential impact of woodland development. This will require an investigation in to the species found in different habitat types and associated with specific habitat features.
Duncan Williams has recorded another notably rare invertebrate, namely the Strawberry Spider (Araneus alsine). Specimens were found at the Allt Mhuic conservation site close to Loch Arkaig, which is jointly managed by Butterfly Conservation, Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research. The spider is bright red with a pattern of pale seed like dots on its abdomen i.e. it looks like a strawberry! It has been seen at less than a dozen UK sites in the last 25 years, and only four of these records are in Scotland.
Woodlands for Shelter in the Westfjords of Iceland (Skjolskogar a Vestfjordum)
Forest Research has been invited to present a paper at the annual Skjolskogar a Vestfjordum forestry project conference in the Westfjords of Iceland in March 2005.
The annual conference is held in cooperation with The Icelandic Forestry Services and other institutions concerned with forestry, land use, rural issues, management and farming. This project, which focuses on afforestation in the Westfjords, has worked closely with farmers in the region.
We gave a detailed talk on the assessment of farm shelter requirements plus an overview of UK agroforestry including policy, species choice and woodland management.