Rewetting of woodland: trial management on two RSPB nature reserves

Drainage has left many woodlands much drier today than they were historically, but it is unclear what effect this has had on woodland wildlife. However, boggy areas in woods do provide breeding habitats for many invertebrates, which in turn provide food for birds, and declines in these could therefore be linked to the loss of

Ghosts in a Beechwood

This May sees the paperback release of Richard Fortey’s 2016 book The Wood for the Trees. Here, Richard introduces the origins of his book and provides us with an edited excerpt from it, focusing on two rather mysterious plant species. In July 2011, my wife and I bought four acres of Beech-and-Bluebell woodland in the

The spread of Turkey Oak in the British Isles

The ecological importance of oak trees native to the UK is well documented, as is the number of species which native oaks support. So, how does the non-native Turkey Oak Quercus cerris compare with our native species and what does the future hold for Turkey Oaks in the UK? In 1735, William Lucombe was sent

Charles Elton and Wytham Woods

For more than two decades, from 1942 to 1965, the ecologist Charles Elton paid many visits to Wytham Woods. His diaries from that time are now providing fascinating new insights into the ecology and management of this well-known forest. Wytham Woods, near Oxford, were left to the University of Oxford in 1942 by Colonel Raymond

Lemon Slugs and Strawberry Spiders: a taste of Wyre Forest

The invertebrate life of Wyre Forest has been attracting entomologists and other naturalists for well over a century. As a study group has been finding out, there is still plenty more of it to discover.  It is a mid-May morning in a Wyre Forest glade. Pearl-bordered Fritillaries Boloria euphrosyne flit through recently cut coppice, lime-green

The ancient oaks of Savernake Forest

A former royal hunting ground in Wiltshire is home to some of the oldest and most distinctive oak trees in the land. Peter Marren provides a personal tour.

Reserve focus: Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods NNR

A composite reserve made up of ten distinct areas of woodland and grassland sites, and with a long heritage of use, the reserve is undergoing a management programme as neglected commons are brought into the NNR, with the help of local volunteers. Fungi, orchids and the Large Blue butterfly are among the wildlife that will

Ash and its host species. A look at three groups that may be affected by Ash dieback

As a response to the outbreak of Ash dieback last autumn, the British Lichen Society undertook an analysis of its database, which contains approximately 1.2 million species records. This analysis, based on records where the host tree is given, found that 536 lichens have been recorded from Ash Fraxinus excelsior, representing 27.5% of the British resource

Ash – an ecological portrait

When compiling the Nature Conservation Review with colleagues at The Nature Conservancy in 1969, we always remembered to point out that Ash Faxinus excelsior woods were more prominent in Britain than in mainland Europe.

The Ash: where nature meets history

How do you describe a tree in non-botanical language? With the Ash you could begin with the impression of strength but lightness in its slender architecture: the pale bark, often made paler still be a plastering of lichens, the bold, angular boughs, the dapples of light falling through the fretted leaves. 

Tree-hunting in Warwickshire

If there has been one sector of Britain's biodiversity conspicuously lacking coverage in British Wildlife, it has to be our non-native trees. One could argue that their introduced status and mostly artificial distribution rank them alongside garden flowers and shrubs, and irrelevant sideshow to the concerns of natural-history recording and nature conservation. 

Conserving violet-feeding fritillary butterflies at Marsland Nature Reserve

The UK is home to five species of fritilary butterfly, the Dark Green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja, High Brown Fritillary A. adippe, Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria euphrosyne, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary B. selene and Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia, whose larvae feed on violets Viola species (Warren 1992).

Adventures with caterpillars. The larval stage of the Purple Emperor butterfly

Few British butterflies can be as challenging subjects for ecological study as the Purple Emperor Apatura iris. For a start, the adults are canopy-dwellers that occur at low population density in the UK, at least in the modern era. Moreover, they are active only intermittently, during the four high-summer weeks that constitute the insect's flight season.

Boggarts, ants and poison – The shady natural history of Dog’s Mercury

Dog's Mercury Mercurialis perennis is a familiar plant of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) occurring in mostly shady habitats throughout Great Britain. There are records of the fruit and pollen of Dog's Mercury from deposits from the Hoxnian interglacial (425,000-375,000 BP) through the Bronze Age (5310-3210 BP) (Jefferson 2008), while the first historical record of the plant in Great

Reserve Focus: Carmel National Nature Reserve, Carmarthenshire

Carmel National Nature Reserve, and the larger Cernydd Carmel Site of Specieal Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) that encompassses it, are made up of a lovely unspoilt mosaic of woods, pastures, heathland and wetlands spread along the carboniferous limestone and quartzite ridges that mark the north-western boundary of the South Wales

The Scarborough Snail and what it has to tell us about ancient semi-natural woodland

Picture a day some time in the 1820s. A middle-aged gentleman naturalist is rambling through an ancient woodland near Scarborough, in north-east Yorkshire. He is searching through leaf litter and herbage for land snails. This turned out to be a notable day, because he chanced upon something new: a dimunitive snail with a shell little

Scroll to Top