During Spring, our Forest School groups will be taking part in the ‘Track a Tree’ initiative. Track a Tree is a project aimed at recording the progress of Spring in woodlands across the UK. We will be observing the phenology of individual trees in our woodland and the plants that grow beneath them. Phenology is the study of recurring seasonal events in plants and animals, and the timing of these events in relation to weather and climate.
We will be looking at when the trees come into leaf and when the plants beneath them begin to flower. Our records will help to build up a picture of how climate change may be affecting our woodlands.
You can find out more about the project by going to http://trackatree.bio.ed.ac.uk/
Today, our Year 4 group selected the tree they will be observing during the coming months. They began by choosing several trees that met the criteria for the study, before making the final choice at random.
Species considered for the study are: pendunculate oak, sessile oak, silver birch, sycamore, rowan and hazel. All of these species are present in our woodland but the dominate species are oak and silver birch. The tree selected by our group was an oak. In order to determine whether it was a sessile oak or pendunculate, the children looked closely at the fallen leaves and acorns beneath the tree. The leaves were deeply lobed and the acorns were on stalks suggesting that the tree we had chosen was a pendunculate oak.
Once the species had been established, the children began collecting the rest of the data required. They measured the girth of the tree, the width of the tree canopy and the tree’s aspect. In addition to this, they recorded the approximate distance from the woodland edge, signs of recent or historic coppicing and whether specified flowering plants were growing in the vicinity of the tree.
They will re-visit the tree weekly and record the timing of the budburst and leaf development.