Green Fingers I Wish

Monday, October 05, 2009

Japanese Maples Under Threat

Global warming will threaten London's wildlife habitats by increasing the risk of flooding in the winter and drought in the summer, according to a new report.

Despite being one of the world's largest and most densely populated cities, the capital boasts a wide diversity of habitats that are hugely important to the wildlife that depend on them.

The London Climate Change Partnership has warned that a global increase in temperature could expose London's scarce wetland areas to drought and fire in the summer months.

Assessment of almost half of the 16,000 specimens of different trees at the Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire, by the Forestry Commission has found almost a quarter do not seem to be tolerant of drought.

The site's Japanese maples - the largest collection of the tree in Britain - are particularly vulnerable to the hotter drier summers and more frequent and severe droughts expected with a changing climate, the commission's research agency Forest Research found.

The maples are at risk because of their shallow roots and a preference to be in soils which retains water.

The problem faced by the 350 types of Japanese maple at the arboretum - and those popular in gardens and parks - is not of immediate concern, but could become an issue in the coming decades.