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


Monday 4 April

Battlelines drawn over St Kilda's protection reported in Scotland on Sunday.

Scotland's leading conservation body is gearing up for a battle over the future of remote St Kilda over fears the archipelago's sensitive environment is under threat.

The National Trust for Scotland, the islands' guardian, wants the government to create a marine protection area (MPA) to safeguard the World Heritage Site.
But the move is being strongly opposed by Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) which believes such a designation could hinder fishing and marine energy developments.
The MPA proposal is contained in the trust's five-year management plan for St Kilda's conservation, which is out for consultation

Green light for research into forest management effects on woodland birds News from Forest Research

Defra funding secured to investigate the effects of changes in woodland structure on bird populations

Forest Research, The University of Nottingham and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, are in a consortium led by the British Trust for Ornithology, which has successfully secured Defra funding to investigate the effects of changes in woodland structure on bird populations.

The main question that this work will address is whether habitat quality for woodland birds can be improved, and thus bird populations increased, through adopting particular silvicultural practices, management treatments, and/or by reducing deer browsing pressure.


Sir David Attenborough asks gardeners to help save the butterfly in The Telegraph

Sir David Attenborough has urged gardeners to plant butterfly-friendly flowers to help turn around the fortunes of dozens of species in decline.


Nectar points: a painted lady sits on a verbena Photo: PA


According to experts, five species of butterfly have already become extinct in the UK and almost half the remaining 56 species are under threat of extinction.

The country's butterflies have been in decline for decades, with the trend accelerating in recent years. Today more than 70 per cent of butterfly species are declining, wildlife organisation Butterfly Conservation said.


Tuesday 5 April

Adam Henson tells 'grumpy' farmers to re-brand in The Telegraph

Farmers have to get away from their image as “overworked underpaid whingers” and present a more positive side of the countryside, according to Adam Henson, the presenter of BBC’s Countryfile.

The presenter, who farms almost 1,000 acres in the Cotswolds, said food scares like Mad Cow’s Disease and salmonella gave agriculture a negative image.

More recently he said celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have presented intensive pig and poultry farming in a negative light by “scaremongering a bit”.

The presenter of Lambing Live, that kicks off this week, said the public should be shown a more positive side to everyday farming.

“We do need to improve our image. Farmers have often been viewed as overworked underpaid whingers. Farming is always going to be hard. We have to face those challenges but face them in a positive way. To stand up and say what we do better.”


RSPB says: South Downs National Park an opportunity for conservation

Visitor centre, cafe and shop at the RSPB Pulborough Brooks nature reserve

This iconic landscape, formed from open downland, ancient woodland, heathland and river valleys, supports a great variety of trees, plants, birds and other wildlife and is enjoyed by thousands of people.

The RSPB has a long association with the South Downs. Its Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve in the Arun Valley sits on the doorstep and offers a gateway to the new National Park.

Steve Gilbert, RSPB conservation programme manager, said: “The creation of the South Downs National Park is an exciting opportunity to care for and improve this landscape, for the benefit of local people and visitors alike, saving forever its natural beauty, inspiring views and unique wildlife.”

The RSPB will be a key partner in ensuring the creation of the National Park adds value and becomes a leading example of how to enrich wildlife and the lives of people by connecting them to nature.


Wenesday 6 April

The Big Swab 2011 by ARG UK

Toad task force: An army of volunteers will be wading into ponds across the UK to map the spread of a killer amphibian fungus.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are working with 400 volunteers recruited from the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG-UK) to swab more than 6,000 amphibians for the presence of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).

Teams of volunteers will be heading out after dark between April and June to swab amphibians in more than

 200 ponds across the UK. The Defra-funded survey will include 100 more sites than the last chytrid survey in 2008, with volunteers in action in Northern Ireland for the first time.

In addition to sampling common toads, natterjack toads and the UK's three species of native newt, volunteers will also be swabbing non-native species such as the alpine newt and marsh frog. ZSL scientists are targeting new species and covering more locations in a bid to create a fuller picture of the UK's chytrid infection.


Is shark or killer whale at large near Great Yarmouth? Reported in the Eastern Daily Press

Beachcombers found a dead porpoise with a savage bite mark washed up on the shore only a few miles from where walkers found a similar gruesome discovery the following day.

The twin finds at Winterton and Horsey, near Great Yarmouth, have led to speculation that sharks or a killer whale could be feeding off the north Norfolk coast.


Thursday 7 April 

Wales to DNA 'barcode' plants – BBC News report

The rare South Stack Fleawort

Will DNA barcoding help conserve the rare plants of Wales?

Wales is set to be the first country to produce a DNA barcode for every one of its native flowering plants, scientists claim.

The Barcode Wales project will aim to catalogue all 1,143 species of native flowing plant based on each plant's unique gene sequence.

This would mean that the tiniest fragment of leaf or pollen grain could be used to identify any plant in Wales.

It would also allow scientists to better understand the plants' genetics.

The information will help biologists to track the status of pollinating insects, such as bees.

And the database itself could be used to test the authenticity of Welsh products, including honey, and help identify plant fragments in forensic examinations.



Neighing for nature - RSPB

Konik horsesA Scottish nature reserve will be using pony power to help wildlife from this week.

The RSPB’s Loch of Strathberg reserve has drafted in the help of herd of rare wild horses known as ‘koniks’ to enhance its conservation work through natural grazing.

The Aberdeenshire site has taken the new course of action to improve its wetland habitats.

The breed is a direct descendent of the Tarpan, a wild forest horse driven to extinction in central Europe in the late 19th century.

Hardier than their domestic cousins, konik horses can cope with harsh climates an forage in the wild. 

Their ability to graze on courser grass, sedges and rushes can also help boost biodiversity.


Lucky lottery win for rare black grouse Lucky lottery win for rare black grouse – Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Black GrouseA lack of woodland cover during one of our harshest winters on record has been partly blamed for the massive population decline of the increasingly rare black grouse in northern England, which hit an all time low of just 500 males in the winter of 2009/10. 

However to improve their future prospects during severe weather conditions, this iconic species has been thrown a life-line by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which has awarded the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust a £32,100 grant to help fund a two-year ‘Woodlands for Black Grouse’  project in northern England.


Friday 8 April

Government gives £25m boost to global wildlife initiative - defra

The Government will give £25m to wildlife conservation work around the world through the Darwin Initiative, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced today.

Defra’s Darwin Initiative has already spent more than £80m to help protect biodiversity in 156 countries since its inception in 1992. Over the next four years the scheme will receive a boost of at least £25m in funding.

Caroline Spelman said:

“I’m proud of our excellent work under the Darwin Initiative – its project leaders have worked wonders in helping to prevent damage to vulnerable wildlife and Earth’s ecosystems and we are committed to strengthening our global partnerships in the economic and scientific response to protecting our natural environment.


Coed Cadw (The Woodland Trust) launches its Manifesto

Coed Cadw Cymru has launched its Manifesto ‘Growing Wales’ future’ ahead of the National Assembly for Wales Elections and is urging everyone in Wales to ask their candidates what they will do, if elected, to champion the creation and protection of native woodland.



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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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