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Castanea sativa or
Sweet chestnut is a deciduous tree found across the Mediterranean where it is
native. The sweet chestnut species has been gradually naturalised into English
soil, still not fully native Castanea
sativa was first brought to England by the Romans in 300 BC, where the
trees were grown for their nuts and versatile wood. On the south facing valley,
a sweet chestnut farm was begun years ago, however it was abandoned, and the
trees could spread themselves and as a result they became the dominant species
on the slope.

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Sweet chestnut trees are
autotrophs, meaning that they produce their own carbon compounds, water and
nutrients from their surrounding abiotic environment by Photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis depends on carbon dioxide, temperature and light. Light is the factor
which will be investigated. At low light intensities the rate of photolysis and
oxygen is very low, so the tree is not able to produce as much glucose as it
would in higher light intensities and instead the tree resorts to producing food by the light independent
cycle (Calvin cycle) where light isn’t that readily available, this will
be investigated to see whether there is a higher abundance of leaf litter where
there is a high light intensity, meaning that the area where the most light
hits, would have the most amount of leaf litter.

Britain is the only northern European country in Europe where
the sweet chestnut had been introduced. This makes them unique and very
important for preservation. Sweet chestnuts are susceptible to chestnut blight
bark disease (Endothea parasitica)
which has already wiped out the American Castanea
dentata and is a serious threat to the remaining ten species of chestnut
tree. There have been cases of chestnut blight in Spain, France and Italy and
has come to Britain.1
With this knowledge, I became concerned about the future of C. sativa,
especially with our ever-increasing rate of deforestation, which is displacing
species who lived on the trees and causing them to die out. The chestnut
blight, which is already in England, has the potential to harm many sweet
chestnuts and displace the organisms who live off it. Therefore, it is crucial
to preserve and protect as much trees (not just sweet chestnuts) as possible,
they provide oxygen, they are homes to all sorts of species and they are vital
to our ecosystem and to the survival of many species.


Herbert Edlin and Maurice Nimmo, The Illustrated
Encyclopaedia of Trees, Timbers and Forests of the World. (Salamander Books,
Ltd 1978) pg. 148. Last accessed: 29/11/17

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