Cold snap "puts the mockers" on mild-weather reports

The Woodland trust, who in January called on people to tell them how mild weather was affecting trees and flowers, has had to about-turn following the recent cold snap.

Hazel catkins - image: WTPL Frances Watts
Hazel catkins - image: WTPL Frances Watts

Instead, last week Woodland Trust hastily asked people to send in observations on how the freezing February weather was shaping the early spring shoots.

"We sent out the first notice in January in response to reasonably mild weather," said Woodland Trust spokesman Chris Hickman.

"The cold weather put the mockers on that. We are now asking about the cold and how it’s delaying growth."

He said the initial request was prompted by a number of anecdotal reports of flowers blooming and native trees bursting their buds weeks ahead of schedule.

The last three months of 2011 experienced only four air frosts in central England against 35 in 2010.

Before the big chill the conservation charity was told via its interactive website of snowdrops and daffodils blooming, silver birch, oak and hazel tree buds bursting.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite project manager at the Woodland Trust said: "This cold snap could play havoc with our native trees, plants and animals.

"The freezing temperatures could damage the foliage of any plants and trees that have been encouraged into unseasonal growth."

It was too early for hard-and-fast data on cold-snap damage but Dr Lewthwaite said native plants and trees were great indicators of wider changes in the natural world.

"By recording budburst and flowers blooming the public can help us determine whether these changes are having a major effect on how nature functions."

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