World Soil Day is 5th December

Barred Plymouth Rock chicken with single red comb

Earth’s name should remind us of its thin layer of soil that provides 95% of our food, but how much do we know about the soil? It’s one more thing most of us take for granted. I certainly found no pictures of good old plain soil in my files and found myself wishing I’d taken a picture of a giant molehill I noticed a day or two ago.

Scientists compare our soil to a living skin, vulnerable to rough treatment, chemicals and erosion. And rough treatment is often what it gets.

UK readers may be feeling outraged that one of our beautiful, meandering rivers, Hereford’s River Lugg, has been reshaped by landowner(s) who almost certainly knew of their legal duty to protect it. A site of special scientific interest, the river and its “riverbanks, gravels and beds of water crowfoot are home to crayfish, otters and salmon, lampreys and dragonflies and a host of rare river wildlife” to quote The Wildlife Trust. Continue reading “World Soil Day is 5th December”

Comparing Lancashire Rainforest With Mississippi Backwater

Trees covered by moss in a Lancashire wood
Temperate rainforest near Cadshaw Brook in Lancashire

When my sweetheart described the woods near the Entwistle reservoir as temperate rainforest, I was taken aback. Rainforest sounds like something you’d have to travel thousands of miles to see rather than walk less than four miles up the road.

Our moist, cool, steamy climate encourages mosses and liverworts, lichens, fungi and ferns to creep over trees and boulders. The Irish sea keeps conditions mild enough for these ancient plants to thrive through summer and winter.

Having grown up scrambling through the wooded valleys of the moors, the Tolkienesque character of this type of landscape is as familiar as the open moorland over the hill. Wild orchids grow further along the path that heads from this spot towards an outcrop of rock called Fairy Battery; follow Cadshaw Brook and you may surprise a fallow deer grazing near Entwistle reservoir. Continue reading “Comparing Lancashire Rainforest With Mississippi Backwater”