Saturday, 24 December 2011

encouraging saproxylic organisms

Dead wood is vital in a living woodland and supports up to 90% of its biodiversity according to the Tree Council.

Saproxylic organisms are species which are involved in or dependent on the process of fungal decay of wood, or on the products of that decay, and which are associated with living as well as dead trees.

They vary from woodpeckers to fungi, but the most biodiverse groups are Coleoptera (beetles) and flies (Diptera). Over most of Europe, saproxylic organisms are under threat, due to the removal of woodland cover and impoverishment of what remains. The majority of flies associated with deadwood are described as 'small and cryptic'. They don't have the 'wow' factor of beautiful butterflies - but are important nevertheless.

Woodlands have been used since man first came to these islands as a source of wood for burning - and dead wood often burns best.  Deadwood is also untidy and so the urge is to clear the ground. Deadwood and the organisms that depend upon it are key to thriving woods and are under pressure.

Our woodland is very new - with the exception of one two hundred year old oak that we have annexed, all of the trees were planted after the site was set up in 1947. We know from Johns ecological assessment that we have little of wildlife interest and so our practices must work to remedy this. We must create deadwood!

We have mountains of sawn logs following the arborists' work that are looked upon enviously by visitors. Much of this will be stored for burning over the next three years or given to our band of volunteers.

But much of it too will be placed around the site to encourage those organisms that rely on dead wood.

Iliff Simey was featured on Radio 4's 'Saving Species' a few weeks back and described his 'natural forest practice'. It is conventional arborist' practice for branches to be removed at the tree collar. Iliff's approach is to remove branches on weakened trees some way along the branch to encourage the branch to rot and to eventually take rot into the tree. This will create cavities that will benefit birds and bats as well as the myriad 'crypric' flies that depend on the deadwood.

All of which is a long justification for asking Santa for a folding Silky hand saw and a pole saw. The job has to be done properly!!

Merry Christmas too you all.






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