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Sturgeon's House

Ancient Forests


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  • 8 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Some good news, more ancient oak trees have been discovered in Great Britain during a nationwide survey.


The article states that the number of ancient oaks in Britain far outstrips the number which remain in continental Europe. And the deer hunting crazed Normans are to thank.

England is the only major country in Europe to have been taken over, lock, stock and barrel, by a rival geopolitical entity – namely the Duchy of Normandy in 1066. “The Norman conquest not only changed the political structure and direction of England, but also initiated a total change in how much of the English countryside evolved,” said Dr Farjon, author of a ground-breaking new book on England’s oak heritage, Ancient Oaks in the English Landscape, due to be published later this Spring.


Indeed, within 140 years of the Norman conquest of England, the number of deer parks had gone up almost 60-fold (from 35 to at least 2,000) – and it is in those Norman-origin former hunting parks that about 50 per cent of England’s ancient oaks can be found today. Hunting in thousands of relatively small hunting parks required two things – relatively open woodland (to allow hunters to actually see the deer they were hunting) and lots of deer. To a large extent, the sheer number of tree shoot-grazing deer helped prevent the woodland becoming too dense, which in turn favoured oak growth rather than the growth of rival beeches and limes.


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  • 1 year later...

A tree from Alaska’s warm prehistoric past is growing in our warming present




Retired botanist Ed Berg took me to a beach off Kachemak Way, east of town, to see petrified stumps of big metasequoia trees that died out millions of years ago. Then we looked at a living seedling of that same species, once again potentially viable in the newly warmed climate.


Homer farmers are trying to grow the metasequoia, also called dawn redwood, which nearly went extinct. They hope its towering trunks could once again populate a forest where the dominant spruce trees now are dying. They are trying out other warm weather trees, too.




For 35 million years, the species dominated northern forests, but was wiped out by cooling weather and glaciation, according to Yale's Peabody Museum. It was known only as a fossil until 1943.

That year, a forestry researcher in central China stumbled upon a single grove of trees he could not identify. Eventually, those trees were recognized as living Metasequoia glyptostroboides, or dawn redwood.


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