A British Ecological Society Special Interest Group
From Suzanne Perry
Upland Wood-Pastures – what’s the future?
Rydal Hall, Rydal, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9LX
Tuesday 15th September 2015
Organiser: Suzanne Perry
Registration fee of £20 to cover refreshments, lunch and venue hire.
This one day field meeting will provide an opportunity for researchers and stakeholders in the field of ecology and forestry to meet and discuss current thinking on veteran trees and wood pastures in the uplands and the relationship with ‘rewilding’ projects.
The target audience is practitioners, academics, post-graduates, and other stakeholders in the field of ecology and forestry. Representatives from Natural England, National Trust, the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission are involved with organising this event.
An initial presentation will set the scene for the day, followed by a full day in the field looking at Rydal Hall where where management and extension of the parkland trees and wood pasture is supported by agri-environment scheme funds (Higher Level Stewardship) as well as funding from the Woodland Trust. The grounds and wider estate of Rydal Hall parkland have an exceptionally rich assemblage of ancient and veteran trees, along with their associated saprotrophic (especially hollowing) and saprotrophic (especially hollowing) and mycorrhizal fungi and their lichen assemblage.
A similar landscape approach to managing other Cumbrian valleys may be adopted by other landowners. Discussions during the day are likely to cover a consideration of the approach and its potential outcomes, and is likely to touch on how it fits with the growing consideration of rewilding as an accepted management approach.
Wood-Pasture and Parkland tends to be an unrecognised and overlooked habitat, particularly in the uplands of England. Few sites have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest for their wood-pasture and parkland interest. In most wood-pasture and parkland systems there is a constant theme of open grown veteran trees and wood decay, with associated epiphytic and wood decay species.
The long ecological continuity represented by the habitat and the ancient and other veteran open grown trees it supports, is a key feature, and depends on the recruitment of new trees to the overall population. Grazing levels, of both livestock and wild herbivores, has always been an issue for management, but with the new threats of tree disease and climate change, what is the future for our upland wood-pasture and parkland sites? What is the most appropriate management now and for future restoration of this site?
The aim of the event is to identify priorities for upland wood pasture and parkland ecosystem health and identify actions to be taken to maintain and improve their condition, identify research evidence gaps and initiate new research projects. We also hope to raise the wider profile of this important ‘Cinderella’ habitat.
Discussion points will include threats and opportunities; what tree species are we prepared to accept in a changing world; protection of sites which support priority habitats; how can a tree population be perpetuated in the uplands in the context of current and increasing herbivore pressure to continue to support the species associated with this habitat.