The spread of Sitka onto bogs
We’d like to build on a research project that took place in 2018 to help us where Sitka spruce trees have self-seeded themselves onto valuable peat bogs. Again there are a number of possible research angles.
What is the impact of prevailing wind/topography/altitude on the spread of the trees from the forest edge? How is it best to measure density of Sitka?
What is the furthest distance a tree has been found self-seeded from the forest edge? What is the effect of the timing of mast years? Does the planting of different species (with heavier seeds) on the forest edge make a difference?
What is the difference in evapotranspiration rates of Sitka and broadleaf species like birch? Is LIDAR data any use at picking up smaller trees, or an infra-red camera fitted to a drone?
Management Plans on various woodlands throughout the Park
Some of these have never had a woodland management plan, some are out of date. A student would need to have some background knowledge about trees and woodland. You would be assessing for management measures like fencing (to encourage natural regeneration), new planting, removal of non-native species, and bracken control, for example.
A Veteran Tree recording project
We have no current comprehensive records about veteran trees, ancient trees and other notable trees in the National Park. The information would be extremely useful for protecting and retaining them.
We’d be interested to know age estimates – some measurements would be useful, possibly even a trunk core. Trees in this area will grow slower and be smaller than trees in the rest of England. A student would need to have some background knowledge about trees and woodland.
Native Woodland Connectivity
We have maps of woodlands and tree cover in the National Park. We’d like to know the best places to join up existing medium-sized native woodlands to make areas that are over 20 hectares. This could be linking smaller woods either with a new planting scheme or a strip of woodland (riparian woodland or boundary hedge), or it could be remodelling an existing non-native woodland to be native species.
- Where are the opportunities to link medium-sized woodlands to make areas over 20 hectares? We would need to consider what habitat is in between these woodlands and if it is suitable for a tree planting scheme.
- What should be the priorities for the landscape? Can we produce a 5-year or 10-year action plan?
This sort of project would be possible to carry out without needing access to transport as there are trains and buses to Hexham and you could be based from there. You’d need some background or interest in data and GIS but we could train you in QGIS.
Hedgerow surveying and mapping
We have maps of woodlands and forests in the National Park. But we don’t have any maps about hedgerows. Hedges can often be really useful links in the landscape for species that can move between two smaller woods – effectively making one larger habitat.
Hedges also have a big edge: habitat ratio, which means that species that like the intersection between trees and grassland find their niche here. For this project, you’d need some background in GIS and some knowledge about trees and woodland.
We’d be able to train you in QGIS. Together we’d develop a methodology for assessing and mapping the hedgerows in the Park. There could be a sample area of the National Park selected for survey work.
This project would fit really well with our ecological network mapping/connectivity work, as well as recommend the best areas to plant new trees and hedgerows.