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The Art of Natural Forest Practice
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flowing stream  

Have you observed indications of climate change in your woodland?

Yes, there are changes taking place that I attribute to climate change.  Whist my recollections go back 60 years, my records and observation over the last 15 years or so have become very much more sensitised.
* My rainfall records indicate an increasing occurrence of extremes of wet and dry.  This year (Sep. 2009) is the worst to date.  So far only one month has exceeded the average, July, which came in torrents and ran off without soaking-in.  As a result much of the soil in the woodland is powder dry.
* I measure the rainfall in the open and under the woodland canopy.  I observe that there is an approx 30% loss that varies only a little with the time of year.  There are many complicating factors but my feeling is that this largely due to evaporation resulting from the air being drawn up through the canopy.  It shows in the uncultivated soil that prevents light rainfall from soaking-in and the falling water-table, evidenced by the dry stream for ten months of the year (yes- in Wales!) and the dry ditches along the woodland rides.
* For the last few years I observe that the second bloom of forest flowers (ground flora) in the spring withers, with the exception of the bluebells (Hyacinthoides) and garlic (Allium) which have relatively deep rooted bulbs, whilst shallow rooted such as stitchwort (Stellaria) wilt and give-up.  Further, I observe that the autumn many species of fungi have become scarce due to dry soil and tend to fruit in the glades where the rain penetrates to the ground.
* The changing seasons are difficult to quantify as nature quickly obscures the fluctuations.  However, for example there are far fewer butterflies of late, especially this year of the coloured species.
* Are these changes merely attributable to fluctuating weather patterns, or are they indicative of something much more serious?  In view of worldwide events such as melting ice, my view is that climate change IS already evident in my ancient woodland.  We may therefore be the last generation to witness it in all its glory



Above - Extremes of flow in the stream at Coed Nant Gain which as a child ran all year. Now dry for most of the year and springs and ditches have dried-up.
Left - Rain gauge at CNG.
(Wilting spring flowers do not photograph.)