It’s tree planting time in the Knowes! Extending previous efforts, we’re looking to help move the process of succession towards healthy woodlands. Succession is the natural movement of ecosystems towards stability. Without regular grazing or a lot of human work, grassland turns to mixed shrub field, which then turns to woodland. In this process there are several plants which can take advantage and begin to dominate and hold off the forest for a time, such as bramble, gorse, and bracken fern. When an area is left to become more natural habitat, we can either leave it to possibly become dominated by these aggressive plants, fight to remove them, or plant trees. In planting trees, the trees will do the work for us and will maintain a diverse but more stable environment for much less effort.
In the Knowes we’ve identified several areas of potential woodland succession and have secured 350 trees for this season’s planting. The trees were supplied by OVO energy in partnership with TCV. Large scale tree planting is always done in the Autumn and Winter, when trees are dormant and will be not be too disturbed by their moving and planting. We select trees based on the water conditions of the soil, the exposure to wind of the space, and the gaps in diversity we would like to fill. This year we’re planting a lot of holly, downy birch, alder, hazel, oak, wild cherry, and native dogwood. All of these provide a key piece to the function of native Scottish woodland supporting a load of wildlife and changing the conditions of the land around them.