31 Jan 2019

The start of a long-term tree study

Bruce Langridge

Our Conservation Volunteers continue to grow in number and ambition.

They’ve just started a project which could, theoretically, take decades.

They’ll be carefully observing the year-round lives of up to 12 trees both in the formal Botanic Garden and on the surrounding Waun Las NNR. Not only will they be noting the dates of leaf burst and fall, but flowering and seed times too. They’ll also be looking out for lichens and fungi, birds and mammals, as well as insects and other invertebrates associated with each tree.

This information should help us to understand more about the biodiversity we have here but may well become valuable in our understanding of the impact of climate change on this part of Wales.

It’s a project that will need long-term commitment and we’re lucky that volunteer Marie Evans has taken responsibility for getting it running – some of you may know Marie through her Welsh language guided tours of wildflowers. With over 20 conservation volunteers, ably organised by Colin Miles, Marie has plenty of willing hands and knowledgeable heads to help.

So what trees will be monitored? Have a look through the images above to see what they are and where they are – more are likely to be added. You’ll notice they’re all different species of Welsh native tree, albeit some more recent arrivals than others. Some have been chosen for their accessibility and others for the grandeur. We also wanted to include the Salix caprea goat willow because of its use in an experiment to conserve rare lichen, whilst we chose Fraxinus excelsior ash tree on the Millennium Lawn because it has the dreaded ash-die back fungal infection and we want to see what effect this will have.

Marie and her team have started the survey measuring girth and height and noting features of the trees but they have reported bud changes on the willow already. So which tree will be the first to leaf this year? We’ll keep you posted.