Trust predicts a bumper crop this autumn following worst fruiting in over a decade
Early indications from data collected by the public for the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar project suggest that autumn will be late this year, but that the glorious weather in early summer will mean autumn wild fruit crops will flourish, having a positive impact on the UK’s native plant and wildlife species.
2012’s extremely wet conditions during the summer resulted in late leaf tints, late fruiting and exceptionally poor crops of wild fruit. In fact, last year’s Nature’s Calendar records displayed the lowest fruiting scores since the Trust started collecting records 12 years ago, for 14 of the 16 tree and shrubs species recorded by the project’s volunteers1. The Trust is urging the public to record their sightings of this year’s early autumn sightings on its Nature’s Calendar website.
Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Nature’s Calendar Project Manager, said: “Although our records suggest that autumn fruiting will be late this year due to the delayed onset of spring flowering , if the warm weather interspersed with occasional wet spells continues, this should mean the fruiting of shrubs like bramble, rowan and blackthorn, is abundant.
“Wildlife species will no doubt benefit from a bumper crop, and finally fruit-eating birds and mammals will be able to enjoy an autumn feast. Last year, birds and mammals suffered some of the poorest fruiting crop in years and this, coupled with the prolonged cold snap in spring, meant that many species had to endure a long period without a decent food supply.
She continued: “In order to better understand the impacts of long-term changing climate on some of the UK’s most-loved native species, we need the public to record their autumn sightings on our Nature’s Calendar website.”
The charity’s Nature’s Calendar project, which has phenology records dating back to the 17th century, allows people to record signs of spring as well as autumn by noting sightings such as fruit ripening, ivy flowering and leaf colouring. The records compiled by the public are used by government and scientists to aid the understanding of how flora and fauna is adapting to the changing environment.
The Trust is urgently calling for more citizen science recorders. Crucially, the number of Nature’s Calendar recorders is falling year upon year2 and the charity needs to maintain a network of recorders in all parts of the UK to help maintain the scientific integrity of the data. Anyone can become a Nature’s Calendar recorder and make a real and valuable contribution to citizen science and the long-term studies into the impact of climate change on wildlife by visiting www.naturescalendar.org.uk.
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.