(Another installment in the very infrequent series)
The North-West Evening Mail is reporting that efforts are currently underway to get beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) declared as native in Northwest England, in order to protect them from being cut down. The evidence being presented in support of the change in classification is ancient pollen indicating beech was present back in prehistoric times in what is now known as the county of Cumbria. Things are complicated by the fact that many of the beech stands in the area are known to have been planted, and by the fact that Southern England, where the beech is considered native, is experiencing a decline in the species thought to be tied to climate change. As the campaign presses on, there remains some controversy regarding the history of the species in England, as well as whether beech should be considered an invasive species, whether it is native or not. You can read more about the campaign to protect the beech here.
It would seem to me that the ancient beech pollen would be the clincher. Obviously I'll have to click your links to find out. Thanks for flagging this up!
I'm not so sure about ancient pollen qualifying a species for native status. I guess it all depends on how much things have changed, and why.
After a native plant presentation I once got a question as to why I hadn't discussed Ginkgo trees, it has only been a few million years since they were naturally present in Oregon. I was a bit shocked, but the question was dead serious......
Climate change is already pushing the natural reproductive ranges of many trees to their limits, and beyond. Just as zoos have become arks for endangered animals, arboreta and other institutions must do the same for plant species. The distinction of "native" may become a luxury, as many tree species will not survive, in the wild or otherwise, without our intervention.
Does the European beech spread agressively and outcompete other less ambiguously native species? The articles don't appear to suggest that, and it seems like the crux of the issue. Not all non-native species are invasive, although of course the potential is always there. I say let them be (unless they are behaving badly) and focus the invasive species energies elsewhere.
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