Chairman, Friends of Bourne Woods.
A Doctorate in Botany (Plant Ecology) from the University of York, Richard embarked on a career in nature conservation and has worked in various roles for the governments’ wildlife conservation agencies since 1984. Since residing in Lincolnshire, Richard has taken a strong interest in local conservation and environmental issues, particularly the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
He has published many articles and papers on botany, ecology and conservation including a book (Jewels beyond the Plough) celebrating Britain’s wildflower grasslands with artist John Davis.
Richard currently lives in Bourne and has led many guided walks for the Friends and has given talks.
Around twenty people joined local botanist, Richard Jefferson, on a pleasant evening for a short guided walk to look at spring flowers.
Before setting off, Richard explained why Bourne Wood is so rich in wildflowers. This is due to its large size, variety of habitats (woodland, grassy rides, ponds) and soils and its long continuity as a wood – it is ancient woodland!
We encountered a wide range of plants including many of the classic woodland species such as the iconic Bluebell, Primrose, Greater Stitchwort, Bugle, Yellow Archangel, Dog’s Mercury and Wood Anemone. The creamy white flowers of Wild Strawberry were found on the grassy ride margins along with Cuckoo flower. Its name derives from the fact that its flowering coincides with the Cuckoo arriving in Britain. Cuckoo flower is also the food plant of the caterpillars of the Orange Tip butterfly, often seen in the wood.
The highlight of the evening was the opportunity to look at the colony of the showy early Purple Orchid.
Bourne Wood is managed as a commercial forest by the Forestry Commission (FC), although conservation of wildlife and recreation are given more precedence in recognition of higher public usage compared to the large, more remote conifer forests in the uplands with fewer visitors. FC was established in 1919 to address Britain’s declining woodland and timber resources, a trend that had commenced in the Middle Ages and had reached an all-time low by the beginning of the 20th Century. This decline was compounded by the outbreak of World War 1 when the country was no longer able to rely on timber imports.
The main purpose of forestry is to grow and harvest or fell trees for timber for a wide range of outlets and uses including for the domestic construction industry, paper production, the manufacture of panels or board, fencing and pallets and to a lesser extent, fuel. Almost four million tonnes of wood are harvested every year from England and Scotland’s public forests. Forestry supports local rural economies by creating employment and supporting forestry contractors who both make use of local facilities and services.
Bourne Wood produces both hardwood timber from broad-leaved species such as oak and wild cherry and softwood from conifers such as Corsican and Scots Pine and European Larch. The vast majority of timber extraction from UK forests is from softwoods, many of which are from plantations established in the 20th Century. Some softwoods have been planted into ancient woodland sites such as at Bourne. All Forestry Commission woods are managed sustainably such that new trees are planted, or allowed to regenerate naturally, to replace those that have been felled and removed.
Many softwoods are harvested after 60 years whereas for a hardwood such as oak, the rotation may be as long as 150 years. In addition to the felling and extraction of the final timber/tree ‘crop’ at harvestable age, a selection of trees are removed at intervals after their initial establishment to reduce the density of trees in a plantation, improve the quality and growth of the remaining trees and produce a saleable final product. This is known as thinning. Normally the first thinning is undertaken when trees have reached between 10 and14 metres in height but the exact timing is dependent on the tree species, the nature of the local environment and financial and marketing considerations.
Acknowledgement contributions from John Wilcockson.
There is evidence that the current wood formed part of a larger area of woodland and forest around Bourne and in Morton and Edenham parishes referred to in the Domesday Book of c.1086. This formed part of a much larger expanse of woodland and forest stretching as far as Northamptonshire known as Brunneswald or Bromswold. Around this time, the major landowner in Bourne was Oger the Breton whose holding was likely to have included most of Bourne Wood. Continue reading Bourne Wood: A Portrayal of a Wood in Kesteven→
The Wild Service or Chequer Tree (Sorbus Torminalis) is a widespread but rather uncommon medium-sized deciduous tree (up to 25m) that is largely confined to ancient woodland. Continue reading Wild Service Tree→