Ask The Ranger
An occasional mailing of questions and answers from Naturenet, the UK's
biggest independent countryside and conservation website.
Welcome to the winter, folks... but spare a thought for those in the UK for
whom the winter is drawing to a close. Puzzled by this obscure sentence? The
first item in this edition will perhaps enlighten you. I've been saving this
gem for a while, and I think it's fair to say it's been one of our favourite
'Ask The Ranger' emails to date. Read on.
Q. Hello, We are Thomas and David, from the Falkland Islands Watch Group .
We are doing lots of things about the environment. Thanks.
A. Hello! I live on an island too - the Isle of Wight. I'm delighted to hear
you're doing lots of things - perhaps you'd like to tell me about them? If
you do, I'll tell you about some of the things we are doing on our Island.
Very best wishes from The Virtual Ranger
RESPONSE (03.Aug): A message from the Falklands. Hello Ranger. In two days
we will be on holliday from school as it is our winter break. It has been
snowing for the last couple of days. We have seen seals in the harbour
yesterday. The penguins will be coming back soon to lay their eggs. We have
jackass ( Magellanic) ones near Stanley. We also have Kings, Gentoos and
Rockhoppers in the islands. It is now time for lessons so we must go. We
will write again after our 3 week holiday, Love from, Thomas and David.
A. Hello Thomas and David. My name is Matthew. I work for the Isle of Wight
Council looking after the countryside here. We only have one Island and it
is 23 miles long. It is about 2 miles from the south coast of England so
it's not as far from the mainland as you are! Here it is summer. The weather
is warm - about 24 degrees - although today it rained and I got wet. Lots of
people come here to visit the beach in their summer holidays. Families with
children enjoy the coast, as the water is quite warm and safe to swim in. We
don't have any seals inshore although some fishermen see them out to sea. We
do have red squirrels, which are quite rare in England. We also have many
rare flowers and plants, and a special butterfly called the Glanville
Fritillary. It is only found on the Isle of Wight and some people come a
long way to see it.
I hope your holiday is a lot of fun. Do write again another time.
NOTE: for you cynics - amongst whom some of our Naturenet folk must be
counted - be assured that our analysis suggests that these emails really did
come from Stanley Infant/Junior School!
Q. I would like to know if any one has researched into the wildlife
benefits of ornamental trees and shrubs , and whether you have opinions or
contacts for this research.
A. I asked my colleague the Tree & Landscape Officer at the Isle of Wight
Council. This is what she said:
"Don't know who's done research, but there are several books on this. Here
are some from
Chris Baines "How to make a wildlife garden"
Miriam Rothschild "The Butterfly Gardener"
.... "Wild about the garden"
... "Bees and beekeeping"
... "Birds and broadleaves" RSPB (mostly on natives I think)
The London Ecology Unit may have done research, and would certainly know who
had if they hadn't. 020 7485 6539 is the number I've got on an index card.
Likewise RSPB would know for birds.
Some things are obvious e.g.
Buddleia for butterflies
Pyracantha for birds
walnuts and sweet chestnuts for squirrels and presumably dormice
a beekeeper in Barnet told me sycamore great as early abundant flowers good
for bees in spring before most natives out
anything thick and dense for nesting birds - Leyland cypress are good for
any trees, of whatever sp, with hollows presumably usable by bats?
Leycesteria formosa planted in 19th century for pheasant cover - bay
presumably good as extra winter shelter in IW woods?!"
Q. On my walk to the station in the morning I pass a crossroads where there
is a mini roundabout. For many years
there have been a number of tall conifers in the grounds of some flats on
one side. One morning I was devastated
to see they been chopped down completely. I was instantly reminded of a
local newspaper article over a year before that had
suggested the trees were obscuring the views of drivers at the junction. I
do not know if these trees had TPOs but I assume even if they did the
council may override its own TPO if it feels there is a hazard to drivers.
It is sad that the questionable needs of the motorist should ride so
roughshod over our visual amenities. Do you have any advice on how I can
register my complaint. I fear they may be targeting other junctions in the
A. Well, not all trees have TPOs on them. Almost no local authority trees
have TPOs on them but of the very few that do, the authority does indeed
have the power to make an application to itself, and determine it itself.
That does not always mean that it will automatically agree to anything,
If there was no TPO and the trees were not within a Conservation Area then
there is no requirement to consult, nor any other procedure other than the
landowners permission required.
However if there was a TPO then normally some level of consultation is
undergone, but the requirements are only to inform the landowner and have
the application available for inspection (usually at the planning office) so
if you didn't know, you would not find out. Many authorities go further than
this and consult with neighbours, publish notices in the newspapers, put up
site notices etc. But they do not have to by law.
You can find out if the trees were protected by enquiring of the local
planning office. They are obliged to tell you. I am guessing that they
probably were not protected. If you find a sympathetic tree officer you
could enquire further about the case and see if they know what the history
In either case, if you want to make a fuss the best way to start might be to
approach the local ward councillor, and see what they think. It might be
that it was them who asked for the trees to be removed in the first place!
Q. Does lichen and moss grow on the north or the south side of a
tree, and why is this so?
A. Well, it depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Lichen and moss
often prefer one side of a tree to another - -particularly if that tree is
quite exposed. In a forest or wood the effect is much less marked as local
effects can make all the difference. Moss will tend to grow in the lee of
the wind, so if the prevailing wind comes from the SW (as it does in SE
England) you might expect moss to grow more on the NE side, especially as
this is also likely to receive less sun and therefore remain wet for longer.
However, if this tree were growing on a N facing slope, quite possibly the
wind would blow the other way at that particular locality, and the effect
would be reversed. So, in summary: take a compass.
Q. me and my family want to buy some woodland in the uk, we feel that there
are not nearly enough forests and woodland,we are against tree felling, we
want something we can protect but we would also have to live there. Can you
help or put us in touch with anyone?
A. Try this: http://www.woodlands.co.uk/
Don't forget though, felling trees is an important part of woodland
management, and if you own a wood you might harm its conservation and
ecological value if you don't manage it properly. It's also not often
possible to live in a wood in SE England unless there's a house there
anyway - you may have great difficulty getting planning consent for
residential use, even for a caravan. Check this before you make any
Q. I live close to a dam in and around the dam lives newts fish kingfisher
birds which have nested and other wildlife yet i have been told that a
housing firm have bought the land and are going to fill it in and build
houses on it please can you tell me whom i can get in touch with to stop
this i have been told that planning permission has been granted thanks
awaiting your reply
A. Sorry to hear about this issue. If planning permission has indeed been
granted than it may be too late to do anything. However your first thing to
do should be to approach the planning authority and ask to speak to the
planning officer who dealt with the case. Tell him/her about your concerns
and see if you can read the reports of the planning committee's discussion,
and the report that was sent to the committee. Also ask if anyone objected
to the proposal, and who they were. If there were objections from the
Wildlife Trust or a similar body, try getting in touch with them as they
might be better informed as to what's going on and how you can help any