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Woodland Research

Maintaining & Enhancing the Health of Our Nation's Woodlands 

 

The world’s forests, woods and trees are under attack. Not only by lumberjacks, chainsaw loggers or timber-harvesters but by fungi, bacteria, beetles and a changing climate. Not in recorded history has there been such a plethora of agents affecting our beloved ancient woodlands. Ash die-back is sucking the life out of our ash trees, sudden oak death is affecting our cherished oak woods, Horse chestnut trees have bleeding cankers and we have seen the complete disappearance of English elm from Dutch elm disease.

 

The reason; human activities. The movement of wood products across the globe is bringing tree pathogens to all parts of the world. Added to this are increasing carbon dioxide levels from burning fossil fuels, rising oxides of nitrogen from vehicle emissions and increasing temperatures. All combine in a toxic mix that is causing stress and the death of our trees.

 

In an attempt to understand and perhaps mitigate some of these factors, Norbury Park Estate is supporting a huge international experiment in climate change called BIFoR (Birmingham Institute of Forest Research) in collaboration with the University of Birmingham. In the largest experiment of its type in the world, fully mature English oak trees in a natural woodland setting are being incubated in an enhanced carbon dioxide environment predicted for the year 2045. Only in this way, will we know how the trees and the whole ecosystem of the woodland will respond to rising CO2 pollution. Subsidiary experiments include assessment of soil fungi and bacteria, monitoring insect populations, studying tree leaves and their parasites and observing the changing pollution in the woodland brook.

 

BIFoR FACE Experiment

The BIFoR FACE experiment  (Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) is Norbury Park’s scientific response to some of the problems our trees are confronting. We are also supporting other groups such as Action Oak, Forest Research and Woodland Trust, in a combined effort to maintain and enhance the health of our nation’s woodlands.

 

Norbury Park is also at the leading edge of new research into the benefits of ‘intimate’ mixed-species plantations, where growing large numbers of different species (many non-native) in close proximity appears to result in faster growth rates and reduced disease.

 

Uniquely to Norbury Park, we have planted an area of 12 acres which is being watered from a reservoir initially designed for irrigating potatoes! From this experimental plot, we hope to be able to produce commercial oak timber in 50 years – less than half the time it normally takes.

 

Contact Information

Any questions about Woodland research? please call us on 01785 284718 or email sales@shelmoretimber.co.uk

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