Tuesday 17 November 2015


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Woodlands and forests are great places to explore and chill out. They are both full of trees right, but what are the key differences between them?

Woodlands and forests cover between 30–35% of the world’s land surface. When I think of a forest I think of Robin Hood in Sherwood forest, a vast place that sustains and hides a small tree top village. Infact the terms forest and woodland are often used almost interchangeably, and if there is any differentiation then most people see a forest as a remote, large, dark forbidding place while a woodland is smaller, more open and part of an agricultural landscape.

One way to distinguish between a forest and a woodland is to look at the tree canopy.  If there is a great canopy cover where different tree leaves and branches often meet or interlock than it is likely to be a forest. It is common to have areas in forests where sunlight never reaches the ground.

A woodland has many open spaces and the density of trees is much less, with large spacings between trees that enable light to easily penetrate through the canopy.

Another difference lies in the quality and quantity of fauna complete forest or woodland is the sum of the tens of thousands of other plants, animals and microbes.. A forest can sustain a larger biodiversity and more animals. In woodlands smaller and fewer animals are found.


A forest is a vastly wooded habitat that supports a complex ecosystem and include rainforest, boreal forests, and tropical forest. They often appear monumental and unchanging and can be classified as evergreen  or deciduous.

The term forest is usually reserved for a relatively large area of trees forming, for the most part, a closed, dense canopy. A forest has a largely-closed canopy where the branches and foliage of trees interlock overhead to provide extensive and nearly continuous shade. They support an understory of shrubs, herbs, or grasses.

A forest does not have to be uniform over large areas, and indeed is often made up of a series of stands, groups of trees varying in such features as age, species or structure, interspersed with open places such as meadows and lakes and areas where grazing animals are limiting tree development.

Forests provide a wide array of goods and services, including timber,and fuel, food, animal fodder and medicines. 


Wooded land currently covers between 30–35% of the world’s land surface or around 39–45 million km2. Woodlands may transition to savannas or shrublands under drier conditions.

A woodland has a lighter tree cover and more open spaces than are there in a forest. A woodland is defined as a small area of trees with an open canopy, often defined as having 40% canopy closure or less. Plenty of light reaches the ground, encouraging other vegetation beneath the trees. Since the trees are well spaced they tend to be short-trunked with spreading canopies.

Tuesday 3 November 2015


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Autumn is my favourite time of year because the changing leaf colour always reminds me of the start a new year at school or college, having fun trudging through the leaves and bonfire night.

Trees during the autumn mirror the bright fireworks in the sky, with leaves turning red, yellow, purple, black, orange, pink, magenta, blue and brown. This autumn colour can be stunning and is certainly worth a visit to a woodland or arboretum to observe.

Deciduous plants shed their leaves in autumn due to a number of factors including high level of maintenance required for a vastly reduced return via photosynthesis, insect predation, water loss, and damage from high winds or snowfall.

The shortening of daylight hours and reduction in temperature triggers the dormancy of trees and therefore autumn colour. A special cork layer forms at the base of each leaf, reducing the fluids carried into and out of the leaf.  As this cork layer develops, water and mineral intake into the leaf is reduced, slowly at first, and then more rapidly. It is during this time that the chlorophyll begins to decrease.

Autumn colour occurs due to a number of chemical changes within leaves, which affect the coloured pigments within them. Pigments within the leaves give leaves their distinctive colour; Chlorophyll (green), Carotenoids (orange-yellow) and Anthocyanins (reds and purples).  

The brown colour of leaves is not the result of a pigment, but rather cell walls, which may be evident when no colouring pigment is visible.The amino acids released from degradation of these pigments are stored all winter in the tree's roots, branches, stems, and trunk until next spring when they are recycled to re‑leaf the tree.


Chlorophyll plays an essential part in photosynthesis, converting the sun's rays into energy. Chlorophyll is therefore most abundant during the growing season (summer). It is the presence of chlorophyll within a leave makes it green, which masks out other colour pigments that may be present in the leaf.

In late summer, as daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool, the level of chlorophyll reduce and the leaves lose their green colouring. As the chlorophyll's degrade, the hidden pigments of yellow and orange are revealed. Red pigments form when half the chlorophyll has been degraded. 


Carotenoids are present in leaves the whole year round, although are masked when chlorophyll is present. As the level of chlorophyll reduce at the end of summer this masking effect fades away and the pigments begin to show through. 


A group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins are responsible for the reds, the purples, and their blended combinations. Unlike the carotenoids, these pigments are not present in the leaf throughout the growing season but are actively produced towards the end of summer.

Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light as the level of phosphate in the leaf is reduced. The brighter the light during this period, the greater the production of anthocyanins. The brightest colour display results when the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing.

For related articles click onto:
What is the difference between a woodland and a forest?