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Read by David

Along with the exciting wildlife of Alderney´s coastline, AWT also works hard to learn about and conserve the island´s terrestrial habitats and species.  “Terrestrial” habitats are those that occur only on landforms, and include grasslands, heath-land and woodland.

Today Cristina Gonzalez de la Morena (Conservation Officer) and Phil Henderson (Reserves Officer) will look at the establishment of the Alderney Community Woodland, which is an ambitious project aiming to double tree-cover on Alderney!

Over the last five years 10,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted on a site on Alderney that covers an area roughly the same size as Burhou.  One of the most important decisions that had to be made was the selection of species to plant; they had to be native and adapted to the local environment.

The Community Woodland is located close to the sea, which means that the site has sandy soils with few nutrients and high levels of salt. The wind is also very strong, making growing conditions hard for many plants.

A view from the Alderney Community Woodland; even from our terrestrial landscapes the sea isn´t far away!

A view from the Alderney Community Woodland; even from our terrestrial landscapes the sea isn´t far away!

A native tree is a species that has lived in a site since the last ice age (or they used to do) without any human intervention. In all this time, only the species that were adapted to soils and climatic conditions survived and thrived, whereas those ill-adapted failed.

In the Community Woodland an example of a native species is the Common Oak. The Common Oak has a long and deep root to stabilize the tree and help prevent the tree from falling over. It also has numerous small roots to enable uptake of nutrients, even if they are scarce, and water from the soil.

Oak leaf and acorn

Oak leaf and acorn

Another adaptation of the Common Oak to its environment are its leathery and thick leaves, that offer good scorch resistance to wind and salt.

But within the Alderney Community Woodland not all of the species are native. There are some conifer plantations that aren’t so adapted to live in these local conditions. The roots do not grow very deep, leaving the trees vulnerable to stormy weather.

A conifer was uprooted by the storms earlier this year

A conifer was uprooted by the storms earlier this year

Cristina shows just how shallow the roots are for such a large tree

Cristina shows just how shallow the roots are for such a large tree

It is always better to have native species than non-native species in a habitat, that is why we are very proud of the Alderney Community Woodland and hope to see it grow into a mature woodland that visitors and residents can enjoy for years to come. Have you thought about planting any native species´in your gardens?

ECOLOGIST'S UPDATE

Unfortunately this weekend we confirmed the sad news that our first ringed plover nest of the season has failed. All eggs have disappeared, most likely due to predation. However, last year the first nest failed at a similar time and was re-laid two weeks later. This second clutch then successfully hatched four chicks and fledged three of them. So fingers crossed our ringed plovers again recover and have a more successful second attempt.

Let us hope for scenes like this again later in the season!

Let us hope for scenes like this again later in the season!