The ancient oakwoods of Cadzow and Garscadden: their history, ecology and conservation

Dougall, N. Martin E (1994) The ancient oakwoods of Cadzow and Garscadden: their history, ecology and conservation. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Two of the fragments of ancient woodland in the Glasgow area are investigated with respect to their history, ecology and conservation. The ancient oaks at Cadzow, near Hamilton, are described. They are notable in their size, their twisted growth forms ("stagheadedness") and their apparent age. There are now about 300 trees in an area of wood pasture. The exact specific status of the oaks is considered. Detailed morphological analysis shows that they exhibit characteristics of both Quercus robur and Q. petraea although they show more characteristics of the former. It is suggested that they are the product of hybridisation, followed by introgression with Q.robur. The past management of the oaks is investigated. Historical references to the oaks exist in both published literature and in surviving estate records. These show that the trees have been valued for centuries and that they were formerly an integral part of the Dukes of Hamilton's chase, wild white cattle and deer being the animals hunted. There is no documentary evidence for the belief, which is widely held today, that the trees were managed by pollarding and that this has resulted in their unusual habits. An analysis of annual rings, from samples dating back to 1444, confirms the absence of pollarding. Old maps show the presence of the oaks from the late 16th Century onwards and it is concluded that there is a high probability that the oaks originate from primaeval woodland. Individual stumps can be dated back to the 15th Century and it is probable that some of the existing trees pre-date this, possibly by several centuries. In view of their great antiquity and virtually unique status as an area of ancient wood pasture in Scotland it is essential that they are protected. Strategies for their future conservation are considered. Garscadden Wood, on the outskirts of Glasgow, is of interest for very different reasons. Outwardly unremarkeable, with a canopy of maiden oaks (age c.120 years) and many planted exotics it is easily overlooked as an area of ancient woodland. In addition there is a certain amount of damage and vandalism in the wood, yet there can be no doubt of its importance. The wood is present on maps from the 18th Century onwards. Inside the wood there are some large oak rings, interpreted as having been produced through repeated coppicing. Many of these are probably in excess of 400 years old. Documentary evidence of the age of the wood is sparse, with few references to Garscadden Wood in published literature and no surviving records from the former estate of Garscadden. A detailed survey of Garscadden Wood was carried out in order to disentangle the confusing array of earthworks found in it - boundary ditches, drainage ditches and ridge and furrow. A detailed map of the wood, showing earthworks and ancient trees was produced, as was a map showing the age of the different parts of the wood. It is clear that there is an ancient inner core where the old trees are found and this is bounded by a, now incomplete, woodbank. The wood was enlarged in the 19th Century and new areas of former farmland were incorporated. Some aspects of the present ecology of Garscadden Wood are considered - the pattern of oak regeneration (mainly in cleared areas of the wood), the flora of the wood and whether this is related to its ancient status, the unusual horizontal oaks which have resprouted and now form "linear thickets", and the effect of building the nearby Drumchapel housing estate. Future management of the wood is considered with particular reference to an existing management plan. Little immediate threat to Garscadden Wood is apparent. Nonetheless it is suggested that it should be designated a local nature reserve. This would allow for a more certain future and its value would be more widely appreciated.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Botany, Forestry, Conservation biology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Dickson, Dr. Jim
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-75578
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2019 09:15
Last Modified: 21 May 2020 12:48

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