Wild About... Trees. Rutland County Council

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1 a Wild About... Rutland County Council

2 Nature notes are the biggest and longest lived things on earth. They are an important feature of our countryside and our lives. In the past they provided wood, for building and fuel for our homes, as well as fruit to eat and paper to write on. Try to list how many things you use every day that come from trees. are also very important for wildlife, providing food and shelter for birds, mammals and invertebrates. Ancient trees are the oldest trees in our countryside and are sometimes called mature or veteran trees. A lot of wildlife, including threatened species, depends on ancient trees for food and shelter. Many ancient trees are the most important habitat for rare beetles in Leicestershire and Rutland. The holes and hollows in mature trees provide homes for over twenty species of nesting birds including woodpeckers, tits and owls. Seven species of bat rest in tree hollows during the day, including our largest bat, the noctule. The noctule is totally dependent on ancient trees for breeding and hibernation. Hundreds of different invertebrates depend on very old trees. They feed on dead wood, fungi and even each other! Nearly 100 species are nationally scarce, or threatened. For an oak tree to be mini-beast marvellous, it needs to be 250 years old. Some fungi only grow on the oldest of trees and are important because they cause decay and decomposition. If we didn t have decay we would be buried in dead wood and leaves! The bark of old trees is extremely important for mosses and lichens. Many lichens are very slow-growing and don t spread easily to other trees.

3 Looking after ancient trees People often think old trees are dying, so cut them down. It takes hundreds of years to replace an ancient tree. Many old hedgerow trees have been removed, and mediaeval parklands, containing ancient oaks, have been ploughed up and put to new uses. People worry about how safe ancient trees are, and often cut them down. If ancient trees are looked after properly they can be safe and carry on living for a long time. Some trees are pollarded - the top of the tree is cut back every 10 or 15 years. The wood can be used, and the tree grows new shoots. like this can live for hundreds of years. next to rivers are often pollarded. This is why we survey for trees. The great thing about trees is that you can tell how old they are by giving them a hug to measure the girth (the measurement round the tree trunk). A survey of the trees in your area can also help you find out about the history of the land on which they grow. Some trees may have a Preservation Order from the local council. Tree Preservation Orders can be made on individual trees, or on groups of trees. Once a tree is protected by a preservation order, nobody, not even the landowner, is allowed to cut down, or prune, the tree without permission from the council.

4 How to study trees Once a tree has been cut down, you can tell how old it is if you look at the trunk count the number of growth rings. You can also tell what the growing conditions were like in different years. In good years, a thick ring of sapwood will have been laid down. In poor years, the ring will be much thinner. Estimating the age of a tree Most trees growing on their own add about 2.5 cm of girth each year. The girth is the measurement around the tree trunk. That makes a tree with a girth of 250cm about 100 years old. A tree growing in a woodland would grow about 1.25cm in one year, so a woodland tree with a girth of 250cm would be about 200 years old. Always take the measurement of the girth about 1.3m from the ground. To measure the girth, give it a hug or use a measuring tape, or measuring string from your recycled field kit. Measure the height of a tree 1. Ask a friend to stand next to the tree whilst you stand about 10m away. 2. Hold a stick, vertically, at arms length and align the top of the stick with the top of your friends head. Mark the stick where it lines up with your friend s feet. 3. Count how many times the marked length goes into the height of the tree. 4. Multiply your friend s height by this number to get the height of the tree. For example, if your friend is 1.5m tall and the marked section on the stick fits into the tree 3 times, the tree is 1.5 x 3 = 4.5m tall.

5 Identifying trees are identified by their leaves, bark, fruit and seeds, or by their shape. Autumn and winter is a good time for studying tree shapes because deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in autumn) stand out in the landscape. Evergreen trees stay green during the winter. Many field guides include shapes of trees in winter to help you identify them. When you are out recording trees, make a note of the size of the tree, and where you have it. Compare tree shapes and draw a sketch of the outline of the tree in your nature diary. Count the main branches and look at how they grow from the trunk. Write down whether the branches grow upwards, downwards or straight out. You can make a collection of their leaves and cones. Leaves might be: Long needles in pairs ( e.g. pine) Short single needles (e.g. cedars) Short bunches of needles (e.g. larches) Large waxy/shiny leaves (e.g. holly) Small narrow flat leaves (e.g. yew) Small overlapping scale-like leaves (e.g. cypress) Look for the different shape cones, and see if you can find cones that have been eaten by mammals, such as squirrels and mice. You can make a collection of tree and shrub seeds. These can be used in art projects, or you can plant them to grow your own trees and shrubs for the future. Remember to your hands after handling any seeds or leaves. You can examine the bark of trees. Look at the colour, pattern and texture of the bark, and make a note of what you see and feel. You can make bark rubbings, using thin paper and a wax crayon, or take photos, and keep them in your nature diary. Remember, never pull bark from living trees.

6 In your nature diary Here are some ideas of what you can do in your nature diary: Draw pictures of the trees you see, and make notes about shape, size and colour. Draw a table, like the recording form in this pack, and use it to record information about the trees you see. You can add extra columns if you want to record other information, such as photograph numbers. Make notes of other observations, such as: wildlife seen in or around the tree, for example birds roosting or a squirrel dray fungi growing from the trunk or on twigs physical damage such as broken limbs, rotting holes, or dead areas You can also record flowers growing by the roots and under the canopy of the tree. Take a look at the patterns of light and shade seen on sunny days and look at flowers and plants that grow under the trees. Are there differences at different times of year, or in the areas of shade and light. You might want to start a log in your nature diary, and keep adding to it throughout the year to see which plants are found in different seasons.

7 Survey for trees When carrying out a survey of trees, you can just record one tree throughout the year, or record all trees within an area, to see how many different types of tree you can find. You should record information about the type of tree, its size, location and age. You can use the recording form with this pack to record information about the trees you survey. If you are carrying out an audit of trees in your area, you can mark positions of trees on a large map of your area, or to draw a sketch map in your nature diary. which tree is most common? Are different species found in different areas? You can make a photo trail of your trees and add these to your map. This will help you identify and tricky specimens. You make an artwork version with your tree images, or close ups of stumps or twisted branches.

8 Survey for trees Tips for recording trees Make a note of where the trees are growing - is it in a garden, roadside, hedge, woodland. Estimate how tall the tree is. Hug a tree! Measure the span of your arms in centimeters. When you find a tree, give it a hug (go above/below any lumps or bumps). Ideally the measurement should be taken at 1.3 metres above the ground - but don t worry if you re not tall enough. Look for any hollows or dead branches. Make a note or take a photo of any fungi growing on or near the tree. See if you can identify the fungus in a book. Make a note of any wildlife seen on the tree. Collect a leaf from the ground beneath the tree and make a quick sketch of its shape in your notebook (so you don t mix them up when you get home). When you get home, use the leaves to make a leaf print collage, or press them and stick in your nature diary. Fill in a survey form and send it to Community Heritage Initiative, Holly Hayes Environment and Heritage Resources Centre, Leicestershire County Council, 216 Birstall Road, Birstall, Leicester, LE4 4DG. REMEMBER: Take a responsible adult with you, and always ask for permission before surveying on private land - do not trespass.

9 Tree Survey Form Name Address Type of tree Location Date of survey Height of tree Girth of tree Notes e.g. wildlife seen

10 What to do Leaf Art In autumn you can study fallen leaves. Collect samples and look out for leaf skeletons leaves that have begun to decay and left the pattern of veins. You can stick these in your nature diary. Collect as many leaves of different colours, textures, sizes and shapes, as possible. Record your leaf collection by doing leaf rubbings, or prints, and write the name of the tree species, date collected, and location, on the paper as a permanent record. Make leaf prints To make a print, cover the veined side of a leaf with paint then press it on to plain paper (or on to larger sheets of paper to make wrapping paper). You can do this with fabric paints on fabric to make wall hangings or t-shirts. Make leaf rubbings Put a hard, dried, leaf on a piece of firm card, vein side up. Lay a piece of paper over the top and gently rub over the paper with a pencil, charcoal, or crayon. The pattern of the leaf should appear. On the same piece of paper, rub another leaf with a different colour crayon. Finally, you can brush over the crayon with watery paint to enhance the rubbings. Make a leaf tile Get help from an adult for this one. Make some sour dough using two cups of plain flour, one cup of salt, one cup of water and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Roll out the dough to 2cm thick. Press a leaf into the dough, vein side down, to make an impression. Remove the leaf and bake the dough on a low temperature (Gas Mark 1-2, 120 o C) for 2 hours. Wait for the tile to cool then paint, or varnish, it. Make greeting cards The delicate colours of spring and autumn leaves are very good for this. Press a leaf between two sheets of absorbent paper, put inside a book with a heavy weight, such as a brick, on top. Leave in a warm place for at least two weeks. Mount the pressed leaves on card, using glue or small pieces of sticky tape, and make into a greetings card.

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