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Reintroducing native woodland ground flora to County Durham. Introduction:

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Reintroducing native woodland ground flora to

County Durham

Introduction:

Much of Durham’s natural woodland was lost due to industry but there has been a recent increase in woodland due to new plantations. However, these new plantations tend to be void of the field layer species that a woodland is expected to have because such plants often have low colonisation abilities that mean it can take hundreds of years for the ground flora species to progress to these new

woodlands.

Moreover, it made recalculating scores after editing them very easy and also it was simple to find the top species for each woodland habitat or each particular criterion.

The ecoflora website was used to gain the required information on each species, along with one or two other sites that gave information on flora-fauna links or offered the use of online maps to show the spread of a particular species population. Information was also put into the spreadsheet like germination season, germination requirements, normal method of propagation and while these categories weren’t scored they were collated as information that would prove invaluable when implementing the project.

It was decided that:

  • Project Aim:
  • To choose species suitable for a reintroduction project aiming to assist ground flora species in populating woodland areas
  • -To begin to investigate how such a project would be implemented

Method

The spreadsheet

from an extensive

woodland survey of

County Durham was acquired and used as a starting point – with a species list of approximately 200. Species non-native to Durham were eliminated immediately, along with trees and mosses and species that, through experience, were known to be unsuitable for the project.

  • Species criteria:
  • Ancient Woodland Indicator?
  • Shade tolerant?
  • Population border near the County?
  • Rare?
  • Easy to introduce?
  • Recommended by local botanist?
  • Attracts fauna?
  • Deters pests?
  • Mentioned in research?
  • High colonisation ability?
  • Visual appeal?
  • Seed propagated species would have volunteer teams collect seed from areas where the plants already exist
  • Vegetatively propagated species would be introduced as plants and be expected to naturally spread
  • A locally-certified seed supplier could be used if necessary
  • Vegetatively propagated species could be introduced as cuttings or as seedlings pre-established in a nursery

Next, the criteria that the chosen species would ideally possess was finalised – as shown on the right. A scoring system was established that deducted points for characteristics that were deemed to be detrimental to the project and awarded points for characteristics the project would benefit from. The system was weighted to make it fair, for example, a plant that fulfilled the criterion of rarity was granted more points than if it was recommended by a local botanist(as the former criterion was seen to be of more worth than the latter).

Microsoft Excel also allowed the use of formulas to notify the user of properties of certain species that made them either unusable or desirable for this project (for example, even low scoring species may not be overlooked because a popup box points out they’re visually attractive, likewise, high scoring species may not necessarily be blindly chosen if a popup box points out that it is incompatible with shade).

  • Further work:
  • Investigate suitable site preparation methods (coppicing, pruning, use quadrats to trial different litter types to find optimal reintroduction conditions)
  • Circulate a survey (possibly around wildlife trust members) to find out which direction they would like the project to head, so the valuable support of the public and landowners can be gained.
  • - Explore the potential for other ground flora types: mosses, fungi, lichens and so on

By Calum David Raine

Supervisor: Jonathan P. Winn