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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Applied Bushcraft; Plant ID and Ancient Woodland Indicator Species

No-one would disagree that plant identification is an important skill for any bushcrafter but what are it's applications?

You might be able to identify wild food

Or plants that can provide you with material for cordage like this lime tree

Or trees which will provide you with flammable bark like this birch.

But most of us are not full time bushcrafters so who else might use the skills of plant ID and how might it help them in their work?

Conservationists and ecologists need to have an excellent knowledge of plants and trees and one of the ways in which they apply that knowledge is by using plants as indicators of certain types of habitat. 

Ancient Woodlands in particular lend themselves to being identified by the presence of particular species; An ancient woodland is a wood that has been in continuous existence since before 1600. Primary woodland is an area that has been continuously wooded since the last ice age. 

A list exists of AWVP's (Ancient Woodland Vascular Plants) and the number of these species which are present in a woodland can be used as a indication of it's age. However while a high AWVP score is an indication of diversity and can give an indication that a woodland is old or ancient it is not necessarily proof that a woodland is Ancient Woodland or Primary woodland. 

Some of the species present on the AWVp list which you might encounter while bushcrafting include;

Blue Bell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa)

A knowledge of plant species and an ability to identify them is also useful to ecologists as they classify habitats using National Vegetation Classification codes (NVC) and Richard will address this in an upcoming Bushscience article on this blog. 

The Bushcraft Education team is particularly interested in ancient woodlands at the moment as we are in the early stages of a new project; The Riddy Wood Project which will involve the management and refurbishment of a semi-natural ancient woodland site. IF you ant to find out more about the project follow the Riddy Wood Project on Twitter @RiddyWood check out our website where you will find brief detail of a course we will be offering later in the year while the full website is brought online or come and find the Bushcraft Education stand at the Bushcraft Show in a few weeks time and ask us about it. 

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