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Jamanda

Well that was very interesting

I just got back from a talk by John Wilding MBE, who is the head of forestry and environmental matters for the Devon Clinton Estates. It was about Tree pests and Diseases.

His outlook is definitely on the gloomy side and he HATES squirrels!
dpack

did you tell him about phone cosies. squizzers are multi purpose once deceased.

i assume he is gloomy about the recent additions to the pests and diseases list ?

iirc there are quite a few already here and some on the we dont want them here checklist.
Hairyloon

Re: Well that was very interesting

he HATES squirrels!

He should probably try another recipe...
dpack

did you tell him about phone cosies. squizzers are multi purpose once deceased.

i assume he is gloomy about the recent additions ,iirc there are quite a few already here and some on the we dont want them here checklist.
Jamanda

Re: Well that was very interesting

he HATES squirrels!

He should probably try another recipe...

Apparently they supply Mr Fearnly Whittingstall.
Hairyloon

Re: Well that was very interesting

he HATES squirrels!
He should probably try another recipe...

Apparently they supply Mr Fearnly Whittingstall.
He's in the wrong job then: you shouldn't hate your product lines.
Mistress Rose

I can understand why he is gloomy and why he hates squirrels. One of our FC contacts was down in Kent last year trying to make sure this chestnut gall moth didn't spread, and there is Chelara getting everywhere, apart from various other nasties trying to cross the Channel. Add to that the reduction of staff able to check imports, bright ideas about importing untreated wood chip from hot beds of disease, and it is really depressing for anyone working the woods.

I can't say I am keen on squirrels myself, and definitely regard them as fair game and dinner.
Treacodactyl

Did Mr Wilding mention anything about not planting new broadleaves due to squirrels? LynneA

Just wait until the Parakeets spread westwards too.

Mind you, they seem to compete with the greys for tree nuts.
Jamanda

Did Mr Wilding mention anything about not planting new broadleaves due to squirrels?

Yes. He says he plants them in some places for their amenity value, but economically there is no point at all, even for firewood.
Jamanda

I can understand why he is gloomy and why he hates squirrels. One of our FC contacts was down in Kent last year trying to make sure this chestnut gall moth didn't spread, and there is Chelara getting everywhere, apart from various other nasties trying to cross the Channel. Add to that the reduction of staff able to check imports, bright ideas about importing untreated wood chip from hot beds of disease, and it is really depressing for anyone working the woods.

I can't say I am keen on squirrels myself, and definitely regard them as fair game and dinner.

Some of the photos of forests in Poland were very depressing.
Another man who was in the audience was telling me there is an organisation who will send out saplings of potentially chalara resistant ash for people to plant and send back reports on. He couldn't remember the nmae of the organisation so I need to do some chasing/googling to see if that is something we could do.
Mistress Rose

He might be being a bit pessimistic if he says there is no point in growing broadleaves. What on earth else do you grow in most of the country? Ours seem to grow perfectly all right, but perhaps not to milling quality, but that is partly to do with the seed. They are perfectly all right for firewood, and we also have hazel coppice which grows well. The squirrel numbers don't seem to have increased particularly in the last 12 years we have had the woods, and if anything may be down a little with more buzzards being around. Dry summers also seem to control them a bit. Treacodactyl

Did Mr Wilding mention anything about not planting new broadleaves due to squirrels?

Yes. He says he plants them in some places for their amenity value, but economically there is no point at all, even for firewood.

I've heard of woodland managers not planting broadleaves any more as the squirrel damage is just too great to produce anything worthwhile. On a small scale you can trap & shoot them. Damage seems to be worse on small trees when the canopy initially closes, some plantations can suffer total destruction. I'm also concerned their bark stripping on mature trees could offer a way in for diseases etc.

Hopefully pine martins and other predators will restore a more natural balance but that'll be many years off.
Treacodactyl

Another man who was in the audience was telling me there is an organisation who will send out saplings of potentially chalara resistant ash for people to plant and send back reports on. He couldn't remember the nmae of the organisation so I need to do some chasing/googling to see if that is something we could do.

This was in the news recently, possibly it's already lead to some trees being ready for testing?

Harper, A. L. et al. Molecular markers for tolerance of European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) to dieback disease identified using Associative Transcriptomics. Sci. Rep. 6, 19335; doi: 10.1038/srep19335 (2016).

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep19335
Jamanda

Did Mr Wilding mention anything about not planting new broadleaves due to squirrels?

Yes. He says he plants them in some places for their amenity value, but economically there is no point at all, even for firewood.

I've heard of woodland managers not planting broadleaves any more as the squirrel damage is just too great to produce anything worthwhile. On a small scale you can trap & shoot them. Damage seems to be worse on small trees when the canopy initially closes, some plantations can suffer total destruction. I'm also concerned their bark stripping on mature trees could offer a way in for diseases etc.

Hopefully pine martins and other predators will restore a more natural balance but that'll be many years off.

He pretty much said all that also that trapping them is unviable as you are obliged to check the traps once every 24 hours, and they don't have the man power. He did say that in Ireland there seems to be some success with pine martins, but the down side is they kill everything else as well and they have a pheasant shoot to rear for. Apparently they are holding out for some wombat traps from Australia to be licenced which don't need to be checked to often.
Mistress Rose

An interesting article Treacodactyl. I didn't really understand the genetic stuff, as it is not my subject, but from the stuff I did understand, the experiment seems to have been carried out well. I had heard about this, but not seen the paper.

Another couple of things we have been told by FC with regard to Chelara is that thinning so the wind blows through is helpful, and that seedlings/coppice reaches the full adult immunity for that particular specimen at about 10 years old.

Squirrels will damage trees by sitting on a branch and stripping bark above the fork. We have a lot of trees damaged that way, but it doesn't affect the firewood quality, and apart from odd cases, it hasn't allowed in disease. The main problem we have found is that where they bark strip on a branch, it is usually the top, and decay can start there, so an apparently perfectly healthy branch from the ground can suddenly fall.
Treacodactyl

From what I can gather from my own experiences and discussing it with trappers, other woodland owners and people researching the damage is that it can be variable depending on a number of factors such as trees planted. I still don't think we know exactly why squirrels strip bark.

In my young woodland I did not initially have much of a problem but suddenly they stripped bark from a large number of young oaks, from branches to the stem, usually from about 1.5m upwards. some will recover but a number have basically had anything above 1.5m die off. Many of those that have survived will produce a weaker tree and it will be deformed. Long term I worry about weaker trees and how they will cope with higher winds.

In my more mature woodland they've attacked many of the mature trees, oak, ash, beech etc, but there doesn't seem to be a large amount of damage. The sycamore on the other hand appears to have been persistently attacked to an extend most of the trees have died. The problem with that is I'd like to plant sycamore for firewood but it would be pointless. (It is often suggested to plant maples such as syc as a sacrificial crop).

One thing though they have the potential to do a large amount of damage in a short space of time, in just a few weeks they can ruin a young plantation.
dpack

a chum puts a vaseline chilli mix on his nuts (just dont Laughing ) and recons it puts them off.

it would be rather time consuming for a whole woodland though
Mistress Rose

If the oaks are well established, you could try cutting them down to about 6" to 1' and letting them coppice. You could run them as coppice or select the best stem from each. You can also select the straightest shoot from where the damage is, or run them as pollards, with multiple stems above the damage. They will go either of the last two ways, and the first has been recommended to me, but I haven't tried it. We may have to on a tree that had an accident with a beech tree falling on it though.

Squirrels strip bark as far as I know for 2 reasons. First is to get at the sap, which is sweet. Second it seems to be young males and can be influenced by how many there are; seems to be too high population causes it rather than increasing gradually as the population increases. Trees up to about 40 years old are at most risk.
Treacodactyl

There's a few things I could try with the oaks and it's not a huge problem for me as I'm only a hobby woodsman. However, if I coppice I've lost 25 years of growth as they're not really large enough to yield much wood. I would then need to protect the stools which is an additional cost. They also seemed to go for the best trees, the ones I'd side pruned to try and produce a usable clean trunk. All of which shows how squirrels can make broadleaves unviable commercially. Mistress Rose

Yes they can, particularly if you want good quality timber. They damage ours, but don't make it unviable as we have lots of different used for it.
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