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


Tuesday 4 January

Good progress made for Sites of Special Scientific Interest

by Hannah Jordan, Horticulture Week

More than 95% of England's finest wildlife and geological sites, covering more than one million hectares of countryside, are now in "favourable or recovering condition", environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced today.

In comparison, in 2003 only 57% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) were reported by Natural England to be in the same condition.
Under SSSI legislation special habitats must be healthy and conserved by appropriate management to be considered in a "favourable condition." A "recovering condition" describes a site where measures have been put in place to address conditions why a site has been categorised as in an "unfavourable condition".
The latest improvements follow seven years of work by Defra, in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Spelman said: "This fantastic achievement is testimony to the hard work of everyone involved. People really do care about and value our natural environment and together we can safeguard our remaining natural heritage for future generations."
Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England said: "The turnaround in the fortunes of England’s SSSIs is one of the great conservation success stories of recent decades and owes much to the tireless efforts of an army of conservationists, landowners and volunteers.
"Thanks to their efforts, a host of rare species from sand lizards to golden plovers now have a greater prospect of flourishing; while much loved landscapes, such as the New Forest and the Yorkshire Dales, face a more secure future."


Wednesday 5 January

Kittiwakes’ trans-Atlantic winter odyssey linked to breeding success  CEH

Kittiwake on nest, Isle of May NNR (c) Mark Newell/CEHOne of Britain's best known seabirds winters on opposite sides of the Atlantic depending on whether its breeding attempt has been successful according to new research published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  The findings highlight previously unsuspected links between summer breeding performance and wintering distributions of kittiwakes.

Kittwake on nest, Isle of May


 Thursday 6 January

After 40 years helping Rangers in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Voluntary Warden Rick Spicer has decided to hang up his boots.

Rick, from Letterston, has been volunteering in the North West of the National Park since he was enlisted by Park wardens in 1971, when he was working as the warden at Pwll Deri Youth Hostel.

 One of Rick’s last jobs has been among the more unusual tasks he’s been given. He has been helping the Artist-in-Residence at the Park Authority’s Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre to create artwork using jigsaw puzzles. Mimi Joung, who has just come to the end of her three month residency, took on Rick - a puzzle fanatic - to help her complete lots of jigsaws which she then split into sections and combined to create one large landscape artwork.

 Telegraph announces wildlife friendly farming award partnership with RSPB

View of crops growing on farmland, Wallasea Island, Essex, UKPhoto by Ben Hall

The Telegraph and the RSPB have joined forces to recognise the efforts of the country’s most dedicated wildlife friendly farmers.

The newspaper has announced sponsorship of the annual Nature of Farming Award, which is given to the UK farmer who does the most to protect threatened wildlife on their land. The award is the largest of its kind and is run by the RSPB with support from Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife International.

The new RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Awards are to be unveiled at a reception at the Oxford Farming Conference attended by European agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos. 

For the first time the competition will include a Commendation award. This will be given to those farmers who have shown a true dedication to the wildlife on their farm. As well as recognising their hard work the Commendation will help farmers promote their business to the industry and the wider public.

Mark Avery, RSPB director of conservation, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the Telegraph on this award. With excellent coverage of rural affairs and the environment they are ideally placed to raise the profile of our winners whose hard work is helping bring the life back to our countryside.


Sustainable fish customers 'duped' by Marine Stewardship Council reports the Guardian.

Certification granted to controversial fisheries has prompted severe criticism of the sustainable fisheries organisation

The body which certifies that fish have been caught sustainably has been accused of "duping" consumers by giving its eco-label to fisheries where stocks are tumbling.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) manages the labelling system that tells consumers which species of fish they can buy safe in the knowledge they aren't destroying stocks.

It recently celebrated the 100th award of its eco-label – to the Barents Sea cod fishery – but a series of decisions allowing controversial fisheries to be granted the prized MSC label has prompted severe criticism of the organisation.


Friday 7 January

Spiked rampion. © Elliot BignellLast gasp for the rare Rapunzel flower - Plantlife

Survey reveals fewer sites and fewer flowers than expected

Spiked rampion. © Elliot Bignell

A new survey in 2010 found even fewer sites than expected for the rare wild flower spiked rampion.

Plantlife launched a project earlier in the year which aims to save spiked rampion, one of the UK’s rarest plants, from extinction. The project, funded by SITA Trust, began with a survey during the flowering season to find out how many plants still survive and how healthy populations are – but results reveal that there are only eight sites remaining, with less than ten plants at five of these sites.


National Parks are Beacons for Biodiversity - Dartmoor National Park

photo of HaytorEngland’s National Park Authorities published a new report in December 2010 that demonstrates how National Parks are central to efforts to halt biodiversity loss.  The report published as 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, drew to a close, follows the setting of a European target to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 and agreements at the international Convention on Biological Diversity Conference held in October 2010.

An independent review of England’s wildlife sites published in September 2010 recognised the richness of wildlife in National Parks and the potential for National Parks to become exemplars in managing and connecting habitats for ecological and wider benefits. The Government will respond to the recommendations of this review in the Natural Environment White Paper in spring 2011. 




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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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