For the first unit of my portfolio I have to investigate and analyse ‘The Woodland Environment’ which has been pretty fun. I’ve felt like a scientist, discussing the soil pH, identifying species and studying invertebrates. Now that I’ve learned about the layers of British woodland I can start investigating each layer and spotting similarities and differences.
Today I did a survey in order to study broadleaf woodland and coniferous woodland. I chose two local woods to visit: Shaw Wood, in my village and owned by Derbyshire County Council, and Bottom Moor (part of Matlock Moor), owned by the Forestry Commission.
To help with my tree identification I used the ForestXplorer app, from the Forestry Commission, which is free to download on Android and Apple devices.
Shaw Wood (Broadleaf woodland)
Our first stop today was the woodland right in our village. How lucky are we? It was a beautiful sunny day for the walk up into the woods, we even stopped for a little den building session.
Broadleaf woodland is typically made up of trees that have leaves with flat, broad shapes. Hence the name! We found lots of Birch and Sycamore, which were trickier to identify without their leaves.
The deciduous trees of the broadleaf woodland shed their leaves during Winter meaning plenty of light can reach the lower layers of the woodland. During this time of shedding and re-growth, the species in the lower layers have a chance to grow. Bluebells are an example of a plant that uses this to their advantage, which is why we often see bluebell carpets in Spring.
Bottom Moor (Coniferous woodland)
A short fifteen minute drive later (pausing to stop and buy lunch) we were at the edge of Matlock Moor. The moor is made up of a group of woodland areas that overlook the town of Matlock.
Our first job was to find a spot to sit and eat lunch, however the place was swarming with wood ants! See my video below to watch them. A quick Google search found that they are a sign of a healthy woodland. Opting for an ant-free lunch, we quickly filled up while standing.
A coniferous woodland consists of predominantly conifers, again hence the name. Conifers have needle shaped leaves and are often evergreen. Coniferous woodland in England is quite often a plantation, where the trees have been purpose planted for timber. Generally, this type of woodland is less diverse than broadleaf because they don’t shed their leaves and the competing plants are removed by forestry workers during woodland management.
In mature coniferous woodland, which we found at bottom moor, the canopy trees have been thinned out to encourage strong growth of the remaining trees. This allows more light in, therefore more species to grow.
We actually found that the field and ground layer of Bottom Moor was a lot more diverse than in Shaw Wood. Another factor contributing to this could be that some of the trees were Larch, which is actually deciduous.
In other news, Blackbird Forest School now on Instagram. Follow me @blackbirdforestschool.