Downy birch against the sunset, Burbage Moor

Downy birch against the sunset, Burbage Moor

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On this exposed moorland on Sheffield’s outskirts, a single downy birch (Betula pubescens) tree battles on for existence.  Birch will tolerate the harsh weather at higher altitude and survive in soil that is poor in nutrients.  This is why it is considered a pioneer species, and the woodland it forms leads the way for colonisation by other kinds of tree.