Saturday 7 June 2014

BSBI Summer Meeting: Part Seven

Botanists on Ben Vrackie
Image: I. Denholm
Here is a report about the closing talk on Day 1 of the Summer Meeting, and the lovely images gracing the page were taken by Ian on Ben Vrackie yesterday - you can see the rest of them here.

Our closing talk was given by Syd House, of the Forestry Commission Scotland, entitled Perthshire – Big Tree Country and once again Jon Shanklin has kindly shared his rough notes with us. 

"Perthshire has some famous trees, which in part led to the project name: in order to attract visitors, and then have the revenue to look after what is there. It covers 90,000 hectares with 25 million trees and has the greatest concentration of heritage trees in Europe, with 22 of Scotland’s Heritage Trees

Astragalus alpinus on Ben Vrackie 6/6/2014
Image: I. Denholm
"Perthshire does have remnants of the natural forest, but there is also a strong horticultural tradition and conditions are excellent for tree growth. Wind does not cause stunting of growth in the deep glens. Timber has been used since the Neolithic period, for example in Crannogs, but the landscape has been changed by man since then. Syd took us on a journey through some of the ancient trees and their sites. The Fortingall Yew is very old, though exactly how old is not known, perhaps 5000 years if you believe the story. There are Celtic remains in the vicinity, so perhaps! 

Sounds like the plants were worth the climb!
Image: I. Denholm
"Birnam itself has the Birnam Oak and Birnam Sycamore, which is several hundred years old. The Oak is reputed to have been seen by Shakespeare. There are just as many Wallace Oaks in Scotland as there are Charles Oaks in England. Perthshire has been known for tree growing since the 19th century, and perhaps even earlier with orchards planted by monks. 

"The Planted Larch of Dunkeld was planted in 1737 by the second Duke of Atholl, and this led to the establishment of an early Larch forest. There are many other sites, often associated with the “planting Dukes of Atholl” and their contemporaries. 

Listera ovata on Ben Vrackie
Image: I. Denholm
"David Douglas and Archibald Menzies brought back the Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir (the original is in Scone pinetum), which were then brought into forestry. There are several interesting photographic collections showing some of the plantings in their early years. 80% of the world’s timber use is conifer and it is important to know how they will do as climate change proceeds, which is why there is some experimental forest plantation. Syd closed by reminding us that we are planting today for future generations to enjoy. 

"In response to a question, Ash dieback has been found in the area, but it has probably been around for some time. It may take many years for a slow decline in the Ash population to take place".

I hope these posts have given you all a flavour of this year's Summer Meeting, if you were unable to attend, and an opportunity to point and screech "That's me in the Baronial Hall!" if you were able to make it this year!

Many thanks to Jon, Ian and of course Jim, who I hope is now relaxing with a well-earned drink after organising another excellent botanical get-together. Slainte, Mr McIntosh :-)

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