10 Nov 2011 12:44
Native trees are fruiting earlier than ever according to Woodland Trust data
2011 set to be a 'mast year' for both acorns and beech nuts
Data recorded by the public for the Woodland Trust suggests that our native British trees are reacting to the changing climate by producing ripe fruit on average 18 days earlier than they were a decade ago.
The trend, which is consistently advancing across 12 different species suggests that the gradual increase in temperatures over recent years is having an effect on the flowering and subsequent fruiting patterns of many of our most well known species. Acorns are ripening 13 days earlier than in the period 2000-2002, beech nuts 19 days earlier and rowan berries nearly one month earlier.
Professor Tim Sparks is nature advisor to the Woodland Trust: "There is a suggestion that the average ripening dates have some correlation with mean temperatures recorded for April, so we presume that the link is through earlier flowering leading to earlier ripening.
However, to see such a uniform advance across so many species is most unusual and we need many years' more data from the public to try to better understand the reasons for these changes."
Further data recorded by the Trust also highlights trends in so-called 'fruiting scores' whereby the public assess the amount of fruit produced by various species. In particular oak, rowan and hazel have all produced increased crops of fruit over the last 10 years, with 2011 likely to be a 'mast year' for both beech and oak.
These changes may mean that animals have access to more wild fruit earlier, but that these reserves will then be depleted earlier in the winter. The trust is appealing for the public to plant a million native trees in gardens as part of its 'Jubilee Woods' project, which, once planted will provide an abundance of fruit for wildlife in coming years.
Over 60,000 observations recorded by the trust in the spring revealed that it was the earliest since the year 2000, with some events earlier than in any year for which data is held - as far back as 1891. To help the charity and record sightings find out more at naturescalendar.org.uk
Notes to Editors:
Nature’s Calendar - formally known as the UKPN: UK Phenology Network: is the result of a partnership between the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and has more than 60,000 registered recorders observing the signs of the changing seasons across the UK. Data stretches back to the 17th century and is used by scientists to assess the impact of climate change on wildlife in the UK. For information visit www.naturescalendar.org.uk
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About Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading charity championing native woods and trees. It has over 400,000 supporters. The Trust has three key aims: i) to plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife ii) to protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable iii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 woods in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its woods is free.<br /><br />The Woodland Trust is a charity registered in England (No 294344). A non-profit making company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No 1982873. Registered Office: Kempton Way, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL. The Woodland Trust logo is a registered trademark.