Help track the early signs of autumn

The Woodland Trust is calling on people across Derbyshire to help them track the early signs of autumn to see if it is affected by the unusual seasonal events that have taken place so far in 2011.

Professor Tim Sparks, nature advisor to the Woodland Trust said: “We’re calling for people across Derbyshire to help us record the changing seasons, which helps inform scientists about the effects of climate change on our native flora and fauna.”

Data recorded by the charity over the past decade suggests that trees across the region will on average be showing the first signs of autumn colour during late September, with so-called ‘full tinting’ appearing by late October.

Despite above average rainfall between June and August, the extremely dry spring has resulted in an overall water deficit and has caused many trees to show false autumnal colouring as they wilt and lose their leaves to help water retention.

As a result the Trust is asking the public to use its VisitWoods website at visitwoods.org.uk/autumn to find their nearest wood and record dates of true autumn colour - vivid reds, golds and browns.

Preliminary results from nearly 40,000 volunteer observations recently compiled by the charity suggest that spring 2011 was the earliest so far this century, with some events earlier than in any year for which data is held - as far back as 1891.

Records for autumn cover far fewer years; hence the importance of gathering data now.