Traditional orchards of standard fruit trees, grown at low densities over a permanent grassland sward, were once a common-place feature of the British and Irish countryside, especially in lowland England. The paucity of historical records from orchards suggests that they were taken for granted by naturalists as much as by anyone else.
The Noble Chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a large and very attractive beetle which is best known in England from traditional orchards. The key features of the beetle are its size – it approaches 2cm in length – and its shiny metallic green colour.
Old, open-grown trees in open, park-like landscapes are an essential component of the Vera (2000) hypothesis, and have provided biological continuity for an important suite of associated visible and invisible biodiversity down through the centuries (Green 2001).
Current agri-environmental policies are encouraging the restoration of heathland, a habitat which was much more extensive before the large-scale reclamations of the 18th and 19th centuries and the widespread conifer-planting (and further reclamations) of the 20th.
In March 2005, the New Forest became the first fully fledged National Park to be designated in England for some 50 years. It is one of Britain's exceptional landscapes for wildlife. For a wide range of lowland and coastal habitats it rightly claims to contain some of the richest countryside in the lowlands of western
To many people, the word 'cicade' may conjure up memories of relaxing on the balcony of a Mediterranean villa at sunset while a seemingly invisible cicada calls incessantly from nearby vegetation. In Britain, our only representative of the family Cicadidae has a high-pitched song which is not so easily heard. Cicadetta montana Scopoli occurs now only in
Wood pastures are renowned amongst entomologists for their special invertebrate communities, particulalry for their species-rich wood-decay or deadwood fauna (saproxylics). Much less well known are the invertebrate communities associated with the algae, lichens, bryophytes and micro-fungi growing epiphytically on the surfaces of the trunk and branches; the epiphytes themselves are an important feature of wood
Ashtead Common is a 200-hectare National Nature Reserve in Surrey, owned and managed by the Corporation of London. The site has a variety of habitats, the key element of interest being 130ha of relic wood pasture, containing approximately 2,000 old oak pollards. These veteran trees are of great nature conservation interest and are rare in
For more than a hundred years the New Forest was revered by entomologists as the premier venue for the collecting of Lepidoptera in Britain. Out of the 2,250 or so species of butterflies and moths on the British list, no fewer than 1,234 have been recorded in the New Forest (English Nature Invertebrate Site Register
Ever since the last ice sheets retreated from the lowlands of Britain, it is probable that grazing animals have played an important role in determining the structure and nature of our woodlands. Prior to man's early interventions in modyfying the landscape, the wild woods would have been occupied by a range of large grazing animals,
Although not far from London, and only a few minutes away from the M11 and Stansted Airport, Hatfield Forest is a unique and remarkable survival of medieval land-use – a virtually complete Royal Forest. Today, the whole of the survivng forest, together with some outlying woodlands, is ownd by the National Trust, and managed, in effect, as
Conservation and current farming methods are often perceived to be in conflict in Britain. However, bird studies on the Inner Hebridean islands of Coll and Tiree have shown that traditional forms of crofting and pastoral agriculture are the key to maintaining much of the international conservation importance of these Scottish Islands.
Woolmer Forest, in north-east Hampshire, is one of the best surviving lowland heath and valley mires in Britain. Heathy hills, birch scrub, Sphagnum bogs, permanent ponds and temporary pools cover some 600ha of Lower Greensand and constitute one of the most extensive tracts of heathland in southern England.