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A round up of the top stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


Monday 18 October

'Ten years' to solve nature crisis, UN meeting hears

The UN biodiversity convention meeting has opened with warnings that the ongoing loss of nature is hurting human societies as well as the natural world.

The two-week gathering aims to set new targets for conserving life on Earth.

Japan's Environment Minister Ryo Matsumoto said biodiversity loss would become irreversible unless curbed soon.

Much hope is being pinned on economic analyses showing the loss of species and ecosystems is costing the global economy trillions of dollars each year.

Twenty one years of UK Apple Day yet a third of our apple orchards have been lost in the last decade

Apples rank as the UK’s second favourite fruit, just behind the banana, and each year we consume roughly 680 thousand tonnes of them. But surprisingly, only one in three (34 per cent) of the apples we eat comes from the UK. This is despite the UK being a prime environment for growing apples and boasting over 2,300 varieties.  In the last decade the UK has lost a third (31 per cent) of its apple orchard land; in the last 25 years more than half our apple orchards have disappeared (56 per cent).
 This Thursday (21st October) is 21st anniversary of UK Apple Day and CPRE is asking people to do their bit by biting into a British apple.


 Otters back from the brink of extinction in England

The otter was nearly wiped out by polluted rivers three decades ago

The otter has made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction, the Environment Agency has said.

Otters almost disappeared from England in the 1970s after pesticides routinely used three decades ago brought their numbers to near extinction levels.

Now many of those chemicals have been banned and the creatures are present once again in rivers across England.

In many watercourses in the south-west and along the River Wye otter numbers are at maximum capacity.

Their numbers are being limited not by pollution but their own territorial behaviour.

That recovery is rapidly being matched elsewhere, and otters are now found in every English county except Kent.


The bumblebee was declared Britain's environmental mascot at the 2010 Earthwatch debate on the 14th October.

Members of the audience were invited to cast their votes after five experts, each representing a different species, went head to head in a lively debate at the Royal Geographical Society in London.


  Cuts could close off the countryside – Ramblers warn

The Ramblers predict that walking conditions in Britain will return to the deplorable state they were in during the 1960s, if drastic cuts are made to Local Authority rights of way budgets following government announcements on October 20.

Britain’s walking charity today releases a list of top ten iconic walking destinations that could be under threat, predicting that well-known walking routes in places like Cornwall and the Peak District will fall into disrepair if cuts go ahead, preventing people from walking in these popular locations.

In 1960 a walker was fortunate to reach the end of a footpath without impediment; such was the poor state of the footpath network. Fifty years later and rights of way are a popular service used by people to walk for health, as a short-cut to local amenities and a gateway to a cheap day out.


Tuesday 19 October

The state of the UK's birds: a conservation barometer

A comprehensive ‘health check’ report comparing the trends in bird populations before and after the adoption of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan has today been published by a coalition of scientific and conservation organisations.

Serving as a national barometer of conservation success, the report is all the more timely as delegates from all over the world gather at Nagoya in Japan next week for the world biodiversity conference. Measuring performance to see if action has been effective is a core starting point.

In 1994, the UK government identified 26 species of bird that were most in need of conservation help and set in train detailed plans of action for them as part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan [note]. These plans were also adopted by the Scottish Government. Using population trends from 24 of these at risk species, today’s report – State of the UK’s Birds 2010 – shows that the number in steep decline has now more than halved – from 16 to seven, and that the numbers increasing following targeted help has risen from four to six species.  

Description: Cairn survey, copyright DNPA

Working together to preserve Dartmoor’s prehistoric cairns

A five year partnership project to survey and repair Dartmoor’s prehistoric summit cairns has just carried out survey work and repairs to Cawsand Beacon – the final cairn on the project’s long list.

The project to protect Dartmoor’s predominantly Bronze Age summit cairns, beneath which there may be fragile archaeology at risk from modern disturbance, is a partnership between Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) and English Heritage (EH).

The Project started in 2005 concentrating on the cairns of Ugborough Moor and has since spread over much of Dartmoor to include the summit cairns at popular walking locations such as Eylesbarrow, Corndon Tor and Rippon Tor. Over five ‘seasons’ of work the project has surveyed 49 cairns to a very high standard. By undertaking such detailed survey work, previously unknown features within and around the cairns have been identified, for example; kerb stones, ring banks and smaller satellite cairns. The repair works have taken place at a total of 31cairns and because of this they have been removed from the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register - a fantastic outcome.

 moss photo. Copyright National Trust

Rare thatched moss found on new sites in southern England

A rare and distinctive thatch moss, thought to have been on the verge of disappearing because of modern thatching techniques, has been discovered at ten new sites and mostly on buildings owned by the National Trust.

Before the latest discoveries, thatch moss, Leptodontium gemmascens, was only known to exist at a handful of sites in southern England.

Matthew Oates, Nature Conservation Adviser at the National Trust, said:

'This survey shows that this endearing and harmless little moss has a real future and that it maybe more widespread than we first thought.'

The moss was first discovered by experts in 1845 but its distribution was thought to have dwindled in recent years as the nature of thatching changed course.  The traditional approach to thatching encourages the growth of thatch moss as it involved ‘patching’ sections of the roof; but modern demands for a uniform ‘chocolate box’ appearance now means that the entire top coat is invariably replaced.  This has helped to hasten its demise and restrict it to only a few hotspot sites in southern England.           

 © National Trust

screen shot of the area local to CJSProtected Planet - new website

Explore protected areas, discover how we are protecting the planet and be part of the solution

ProtectedPlanet.net - The latest initiative harnessing the World Database on Protected Areas.

Be inspired by the most beautiful places on the planet. Explore the worlds national parks, wilderness areas and world heritage sites. Help us find and improve information on every protected area in the world. Protectedplanet.net lets you discover these incredible places through elegant mapping and intuitive searching. Protectedplanet.net wants you to contribute information about protected areas alongside national agencies and international organisations. Protectedplanet.net helps you understand what and where our natural resources are being conserved.


Wednesday 20 October

Dorset's lead in the Big Society

Dorset’s lead on environmental volunteering is being recognised, as the Government embraces the idea of ‘Big Society’.  On the day that the Cabinet Office published its strategy and consultation on how to build a ‘Big Society’ through community engagement, Dorset Wildlife Trust met Oliver Letwin, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and the Government’s volunteering advisor.

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s chief executive, Simon Cripps, and volunteering programme manager, Steve Davis, met the Rt Hon Mr Letwin, MP for West Dorset, to discuss the need for government support for volunteering and community engagement. 

  Helping butterflies flourish in a Monmouthshire woodland

Woodlands provide vital habitats for butterflies and the woodlands managed by Forestry Commission Wales are home to some of Britain’s most endangered species of butterfly.

One of these sites - Slade woodland near Magor in Monmouthshire - is one of the most important sites for butterflies in South East Wales.

Now, thanks to a survey carried out by Butterfly Conservation on behalf of Forestry Commission Wales, work is underway in Slade woodland to improve the habitat for butterflies and help maintain or even increase their populations.


Thursday 21 October

It's Apple Day.

On October the 21st every year, an annual celebration of apple, orchards and local distinctiveness. Initiated by Common Ground in 1990 it has since been celebrated each year by people organising hundreds of local events   find out more here


A day after the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review here's a round up of who said what and some reactions.

Statement from Defra

 Comprehensive Spending Review – Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

Over the course of the Spending Review period, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will reduce resource spending by 29% and capital spending by 34%. The Department’s Administration budget will be reduced by 33%.

Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL)

£ billion






Resource DEL






Capital DEL












In this table Resource DEL excludes depreciation

Defra will reprioritise its spending, focusing tax payer’s money on British farming and food production; enhancing the environment and biodiversity; and supporting a green economy resilient to climate change.


Reactions from some of the organisations affected

Wildlife Trusts response to the Spending Review

Major impacts on vital natural environment work are likely - through the loss of a third of Defra’s budget1 – so The Wildlife Trusts urge the Government to ensure the remaining investment achieves the greatest benefits for the environment.

The review could provide the opportunity to identify where Government investment could achieve greatest value for money.  The Wildlife Trusts believe a healthy natural environment is the cornerstone of a healthy economy and a healthy society.  Government, private and voluntary sectors and wider society all have a role in helping to create a healthy natural environment.


Challenging times for the environment, but hope for green farming - CPRE

Following the announcement of the results of the comprehensive spending review, Ben Stafford, CPRE Head of Campaigns, says:

“This Government has set itself a high bar by pledging to be the ‘greenest ever’. Significant cuts to the main environmental departments will not make clearing that bar any easier.

“Inevitably, many rural people will face hardship as a result of these cuts.  We await further detail, but subsidised rural bus services are likely to face challenging times, thanks to the combination of a 20 per cent cut in bus subsidy grant and a 28 per cent cut in local authority funding.


Wildlife friendly farming survives environmental cuts - RSPB

The RSPB has welcomed Government’s decision to safeguard wildlife friendly farming schemes in the face of wider environmental cuts.

In today’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the chancellor George Osborne announced a cut to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of 8% per annum over 4 years.

However details released by the department reveal that the Higher Level Scheme (HLS), which helps farmers create environmental measures to protect threatened farmland birds and other wildlife, has been saved from the axe. HLS has been prioritised and extra European funding has been found to fill the gap, and help the scheme grow by 80 per cent.

RSPB director of conservation Mark Avery said: “Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has done a good job in defending wildlife friendly farming against the worst of the cuts.


Kew and the Comprehensive Spending Review

Whilst awaiting details of the scale and phasing of any cuts to its Government grant, Kew will continue to focus on delivering its mission and meeting the demand for its vital services.


CLA broadband victory in Comprehensive Spending Review

The CLA today (20 October) celebrated victory for its rural broadband campaign as the Government announced £530 million of funding to roll-out a superfast broadband network to rural areas.

The Association, the first to recognise the importance of broadband to sustain the future of rural businesses and communities, had argued for many years that a significant amount of public sector money should be provided to roll-out superfast broadband in the countryside.


And interpretation from the press:

Independent - Defra: Nature reserves set to go private and Kew suffers

The privatisation of England's 224 National Nature Reserves is a likely outcome of the 30 per cent cut in the budget of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew budget will also be cut.

The network of reserves, which shelter some of Britain's most precious species and habitats, is mostly maintained by Natural England, the Government's wildlife agency, which is a Defra-funded arms-length body likely to have its own budget cut by up to a third. But as a major money-saving exercise, it seems certain to be handed over in whole or in part to wildlife conservation charities including the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.


Guardian - Spending review: 'Greenest government ever' reserves worst cuts for Defra

Environment department has budget cut by 30% compared to government average of 19%

The self-proclaimed "greenest government ever" today delivered some of its most vicious spending cuts to the environment. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had its total budget cut by 30%, including the effect of inflation, considerably higher than the government average of 19%.

It means that Defra's budget will shrink from about £3bn this year by about £700m by the end of the four-year spending period, in 2015. As a result, the department and its delivery agencies, including the Environment Agency, which monitors pollution and protects against flooding, and Natural England, which helps look after the natural world, will shed 5,000-8,000 out of a total of 30,000 jobs.


Telegraph - Spending Review: what it means for the Environment and Climate Change

Big energy projects will go ahead but the environment has suffered with funds for flooding defence and wildlife cut.

Overall Defra will have to cut £700 million, the largest cut of any department outside the Treasury. Environment campaigners are relieved funding for conservation was not harder hit. But the fact remains that money for wildlife will be squeezed. Also flooding and animal disease prevention, despite the risks to public safety.

However, Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State, insisted most of the savings will be through efficiencies such as £174 million saved through cutting staff numbers and more efficient IT.


And for some light relief some wonderful pictures.

Ant silhouette wins wildlife photographer of the year

The photograph captures a busy, highly organised scene - a rare close-up of insects in action.

Possibly the most amazing thing about this year's winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award was that it was taken in the dead of night.

The judges commended winning photographer, Hungarian Bence Mate, for his "artistic" image, A marvel of ants.

To see the images in full: Click here


Friday 22 October

Devon Hedge Week starts tomorrow

Devon Hedge Week is an annual event, run by the Devon Hedge Group, in association with Devon Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG). Its purpose is to raise awareness and appreciation of Devon's magnificent network of hedges. It takes the form of a week of hedge-related events and activities for all the family.  This year the focus of Devon Hedge Week is 'Fruit and Nuts'.

Devon Hedge Week events will run from Saturday 23rd October to Sunday 31st October 2010.


Heritage, environment and health helped by Sustainable Development Fund

A new Kinder Heritage Centre, an environmentally-friendly bus-washer, and healthcare through farm work are all among new projects to receive backing from the Peak District Sustainable Development Fund.

Set up to support long-term environmental and social wellbeing in and around the Peak District National Park, the Sustainable Development Fund has allocated more than £70,000 in grants in its latest round.


South West stretch of England coast path gears up for the Olympics

Natural England begins public consultation on plans for improved coastal access in Dorset

Proposals for an improved coastal access route from Lulworth to Portland are published for consultation from 15 October, marking the first stages of the England Coast Path set in motion by the Marine & Coastal Access Act 2009.

Natural England has set out proposals for an enhanced route to be created along the Lulworth to Portland stretch of the Dorset coast in time for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – providing greater access for the many people expected to watch the Olympic sailing events that will be held around the Weymouth area.





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Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS. 

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