A round up of the top stories as chosen by the CJS Team.
Another Week - National Marine Week this
30th July -
14th August 2011
The UK's marine environment provides a haven for some of our most
fascinating wildlife, such as basking sharks, grey seals, puffins
Each year The Wildlife Trusts celebrate the UK's amazing sea
animals and plants during National Marine Week. This is your chance
to explore the seashore, discover dunes and wallow with whelks -
however you don't have to wait for National Marine Week to get out
Monday 1 August
Ever Seaweed Surveys on the North East Coastline – Durham Wildlife Trust
The first ever survey of seaweed along England’s east coast begins today
(Monday 1 August), thanks to The Wildlife Trusts.
The conservation organisation is working with partners to coordinate
Seaweed East, a scheme which will see a team of surveyors exploring 11
locations from Essex to Northumberland. Renowned marine biologists and
Seasearch divers will work with a botanist and a wild food expert, spending
an intensive period of 11 days exploring the locations, including several
previously unsurveyed Wildlife Trust coastal nature reserves. They will be
surveying at Blackhall Rocks Nature Reserve on the 8th of August. At each
site, all species of seaweed will be recorded, and samples taken. The east
coast is an under-surveyed section of the UK’s coastline, often due to the
perception of the area being of little ecological importance. This could not
be more wrong with the North supporting two of the countries largest
subtidal chalk reefs. It is hoped Seaweed East will provide vital evidence
of the true variety of life it supports.
Coastal Access - Sinking Fast? - Ramblers
Especially relevant to: Footpath and Access Officers Published: 1st
August 2011 For information: The Ramblers are concerned about the future of
an All-England Coastal Route and are asking volunteers to take action over
the summer to lobby for a commitment to the program
Thanks to the hard work of committed Ramblers’ volunteers, the Marine and
Coastal Access Act was passed in 2009. This legislation allows for the
designation of a continuous route for walkers along the entire coast of
England. Work has already begun to establish the route, which has long been
a goal for keen walkers everywhere. I’m writing to you today to tell you the
problems facing the coastal route, and to let you know how you can help.
It is becoming clear that the Government does not view coastal access as
a priority, and indeed, might delay indefinitely the designation of the new
Trust searching for jubilee wood site – BBC news report on a Woodland
The ambitious 500-acre woodland would take three or four years to
The Woodland Trust is searching for a 500-acre site to plant
half-a-million trees in a flagship woodland that will celebrate the Queen's
The ideal location would be an accessible location near a large
population, a spokeswoman said.
The team hoped to begin planting trees on the chosen site in the autumn.
As well as planting the jubilee wood, the trust is also looking for
volunteer hosts for a further 59 60-acre "diamond woods" across the UK.
"While the jubilee wood is going to be a national, living monument to the
Queen, we also want it to be used and enjoyed by people," explained Georgina
Mcleod, the trust's head of jubilee woods.
Cairngorms wildness gets better protection – John Muir Trust
The Cairngorms National Park Authority is the first in the UK to issue
special planning guidance covering wildness.
Wildness is a recognised special quality of the Cairngorms National Park,
which is the UK’s largest. The new guidance means that planning applications
will have to be considered against their potential impact on wildness. There
is also recognition that wild areas can be enhanced by removing redundant
structures such as old electricity pylons.
Matthew Hawkins, Senior Heritage Officer for the Cairngorms National Park
Authority, said: “The Cairngorms National Park is full of wild places – for
some it’s in a rugged mountain landscape, for others deep inside a natural
pine wood. We’re proud to lead the way in producing and adopting guidance on
wildness and shows how important wildness is to the Cairngorms National
Tuesday 2 August
Marine wildlife survey in Loch Linnhe – Scottish Natural Heritage
Exploration of Loch Linnhe and surrounding sea lochs will get underway
this week (3 August) to confirm the presence of some of Scotland's most
important marine wildlife.
A team of marine scientists from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the
Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and Heriot-Watt University
will be surveying underwater wildlife and habitats of high conservation
importance, known as priority marine features.
Covering Loch Etive, Loch Eil and Loch Leven as well as Loch Linnhe, the
aim of the survey is to update existing knowledge about marine life in the
sea lochs. The findings will be used to provide advice to Government and
others on conservation and development in the marine environment. Previous
surveys have revealed the presence of several of the features of interest,
including horse mussel beds, spiny lobsters, deep sponge communities, the
northern seafan and the rare and beautiful fireworks anemone.
Research work carried out by Heriot-Watt University suggests that the
flame shell bed in this area is possibly the biggest in UK waters.
Why Lord Patton must save the BBC Wildlife Fund writes Nicholas Milton
on the Guardian's Environment blog
end of the fund, a vital support for conservation when government spending
has dried up, will be a tragedy
The BBC Wildlife Fund has raised £3m to support projects protecting
animals such as the Ethiopian wolf. Photograph: Martin Harvey/Corbis
For over 50 years, the BBC has been a leader in wildlife programming:
from Animal Magic to Life on Earth and more recently, Springwatch. Now, as
part of its cost-cutting measures, the BBC executive board has announced
that the BBC Wildlife Fund is to close. This will be a tragedy not just for
the BBC and its award-winning Natural History Unit in Bristol but more
importantly for wildlife conservation across the world.
Yet as a legally separate charity, abolishing the fund will not save the
BBC any money, so why do it? "The BBC has a clear commitment to a number of
charities and we are proud of our achievements in support of the Wildlife
Fund," said a BBC spokesperson. "However, as with the many difficult choices
we currently face, we must focus our efforts in areas where we can have the
Petition to Save BBC Wildlife Fund:
Cities could be the key to saving pollinating insects - BBC News
people do think we're a little odd," says Professor Jane Memmott, as she
rummages around in someone's front garden, hunting for plants and insects.
"But once we explain what we're doing - and we do ask for permission to do
this - people are generally very interested."
Professor Memmott and her team, from the University of Bristol, are in a
typical residential street just outside of the centre of Bristol.
They are gathering data for a Britain-wide survey, which will provide a
snapshot of the number of insect pollinators - bees, butterflies, beetles
and flies - that can be found in an urban area like this.
To do this, they are sweeping along a transect - a 1km-long straight line
- across the city, and stopping every 10m to count and identify the number
of flowers and pollinators they find.
A front garden can offer an array of floral delights for pollinators
It does not matter if it is a car park, roundabout or a residential
street like the one they are looking at today - every patch that falls along
this line is being scrutinised.
This mammoth task is being repeated in 12 cities all over Britain - from
Dundee in the north to Southampton in the south.
Then in addition to these urban centres, the team is carrying out exactly
the same survey in 12 farmland habitats and 12 nature reserves, also spread
out across the length and breadth of Britain.
Dr Katherine Baldock, from the University of Bristol, who is managing the
project, says: "The project is probably the largest field study ever of
pollinators and their habitats in the UK. It's a huge logistical challenge.
It will show for the first time how these different habitats compare."
HM Treasury announcement on funding for Mountain Rescue.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, today set out
£200,000 additional funding for mountain rescue teams across the UK. This is
the first time the UK Government has given direct funding to mountain rescue
services and will contribute to the cost of procuring mountain rescue
equipment this year.
This is the first of four years of funding set aside in the Spending
Review, with at least £200,000 available in each year. Funding will be
available to 75 teams performing mountain or cave rescue activity across
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Study offers winter lifeline for struggling farmland birds - RSPB
have come up with a solution to the ‘hungry gap’ – the annual problem of
farmland birds struggling for survival in late winter and early spring.
Small birds like yellowhammers and reed buntings often suffer from a lack
of seed food during winter. This is a particular problem in the grassland
areas of western Britain. Even the best measures by farmers to tackle the
problem run out of seed long before the winter ends leading to what
conservationists call the ‘ hungry gap’. But RSPB scientists have published
a study proposing a new answer.
The study, funded by Defra and published in the journal Agriculture,
Ecosystems and Environment this month, shows that by simply leaving patches
of common ryegrass to go to seed instead of cutting them for silage, birds
have an abundant supply of seeds to last them through the winter.
RSPB conservation scientist David Buckingham said: “We carried out trials
on 12 farms in the West Midlands and found that when small patches of
ryegrass around the edge of fields was left to go to seed we managed to
attract high numbers of birds.
Wednesday 3 August
Avian pox: public help needed –report from Zoological Society of London,
further information from RSPB & BTO
The public are being asked to report sightings of garden birds riddled
with lesions as scientists reveal that avian pox is spreading across the UK.
Avian pox has been recorded in bird species such as house sparrows and
wood pigeons for a number of years, but its recent emergence in great tits
is causing real concern as the birds develop more severe symptoms of the
Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the University
of Oxford recorded the first occurrence of the disease in Oxford last year.
Prior to this, affected birds had most often been sighted in Surrey, Kent
and Sussex. The researchers are now calling on the public to report
sightings of garden birds with symptoms of avian pox to the RSPB Wildlife
Enquiries Unit to help the research team track the spread of the disease.
Avian poxvirus causes the disease avian pox which leads to warty,
tumour-like growths on different parts of a bird’s body, particularly on the
head around the eyes and beak. The disease can be relatively mild in some
species, but great tits have been shown to suffer severe symptoms which can
prevent them from feeding and may increase their susceptibility to
Wildlife Vet Dr Becki Lawson from ZSL said: “We now believe avian pox has
spread as far north as Staffordshire. Public reports of sick birds are
essential in helping us to track the disease and determine the wider impact
it is having on our garden birds.”
Read more about Avian pox and report any sightings to the RSPB here.
Calling all landowners of Caledonian pinewoods! - Plantlife
Plantlife guide explains the conditions that rare flowers need to survive in
this Scottish environment.
Twinflower, one of the at-risk wildflowers the guide hopes
to help thrive. © Laurie Campbell
Caledonian pinewoods are home to some of Scotland’s most rare and
beautiful wildflowers: from wild orchids such as creeping lady’s-tresses,
lesser twayblade and coralroot, to one of Scotland’s smallest and most
delicate native flowers, twinflower.
Sadly all have suffered severe losses over the last century. In response,
Plantlife has created a guide for anyone that owns pinewoods with some
simple steps they can take to protect and encourage woodland wildflowers.
Download your guide here.
“With more native pinewood now being
planted in Scotland, it seemed to be the perfect moment to publish some
pointers on how to help look after some of the rare wildflowers that make up
the floral heritage of the Caledonian pinewoods” says Dr. Deborah Long,
Conservation Manager for Plantlife Scotland.
Scottish farm short-listed for top wildlife prize - RSPB
An upland livestock farm on the Isle of Mull has been shortlisted for
this year’s prestigious Nature of Farming Award.
Somerset and Carolyne Charrington of Treshnish Farm impressed the
selection panel with their efforts to conserve priority habitats and species
such as the corncrake, the transparent burnet moth and wood bitter vetch.
Now they face a public vote throughout the summer along with 3 other farms
to determine the overall UK winner.
For more about the awards and a chance to vote visit: Nature of Farming
The RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award celebrates the fantastic work
farmers are already doing for wildlife - with a top prize of £1,000 for the
Woodland Trust data suggests record breaking spring for Mother Nature
Preliminary results from nearly 40,000 volunteer observations compiled
by the Woodland Trust suggest that spring 2011 was the earliest so far this
century. Some events recorded were earlier than in any year for which the
charity has data - as far back as 1891.
The data, recorded by the general public on the charity's Nature's
Calendar website highlighted some startling information for a number of
traditional spring events. These include the earliest emergence of orange
tip butterfly for over 100 years, the earliest leafing since at least 2000
for 11 out of 13 tree species and the earliest arrival of six species of
spring migrant birds. The provisional average emergence date for orange tip
in 2011 was April 13, three days earlier than the previous record of April
16 in 2007.
to catch 'killer' shrimps invading Yorkshire lakes – BBC local news
Traps are being set up in lakes most likely to contain the Dikerogammarus
Traps are being deployed in a bid to track 'killer' shrimps which could
be invading Yorkshire's waterways.
Environment Agency officers are investigating the extent of the spread of
the invasive species known as Dikerogammarus villosus.
It grows up to 30mm long and kills a range of native species,
particularly native shrimps and young fish.
Traps are being set up at selected lakes in Yorkshire which are thought
to be most likely to contain them.
Thursday 4 August
Bay recommended as a Marine Conservation Zone – Dorset Wildlife Trust
Studland Bay is being put forward as one of the new Marine Conservation
Zones being created around the country as a result of the Marine & Coastal
Access Act 2009. Together these will form a network of protected areas in
our seas which aims to allow our marine wildlife to recover from past
decline. Studland Bay has been selected because of its nationally important
seagrass meadows, both species of British seahorse, nursery area for the
endangered undulate ray, for its native oysters and other features.
Human activities can continue in Marine Conservation Zones as long as
they do not damage the listed species and habitats within them.
Green light for new Essex power station – Department for Energy and
Energy Minister Charles Hendry will today (4/8/11) give the go-ahead for
InterGen’s proposals to construct a new 900MW gas power plant at the London
Gateway Logistics Park, Coryton, Essex.
The plans are for a new £600 million power station comprising of up to
two CCGT generating units, each around 450MW in capacity. This brings the
total new capacity consented by the Government since May 2010 to
5,456MW – enough to power more than seven million homes if developed.
Virus Strikes Again – Red Squirrel Survival Trust
Yesterday we received the most devastating news when we heard that once
again, the deadly squirrelpox virus has been found in our treasured red
squirrel populations near Ainsdale in Merseyside.
As you will probably know, in 2006 and then again in 2008, the virus
rampaged through Merseyside and we were forced to witness the agonising
deaths of hundreds of our most rare and iconic woodland creatures (see
picture below). Population numbers dropped from 1,000 to below 150 animals
and there was extreme concern that there might be no way back from this
moved into action and helped set up the Merseyside Red Squirrels Project and
with the help of committed volunteers, donors and project staff, the long
journey to restore the region's red squirrels to their rightful habitat
commenced. A few weeks ago we heard that we were well on track and that
numbers were at 60% of 2002 numbers. Hopes were high.
Yesterday's news is obviously a very sad setback but we are acting
quickly - TODAY - in an effort to stop a repeat of history. The project has
allowed us to learn much more about the disease and how to stop it in its
tracks so we are better placed now to fight!
Work starts to protect wildlife at RSPB Minsmere – Environment Agency
Work to continue protection from flooding to internationally important
flora and fauna including bitterns, avocets and marsh sow-thistle, is
starting at RSPB Minsmere this month.
The Environment Agency will be raising and improving banks at the reserve
which lies on one of the UK's fastest-eroding coastlines. Freshwater
habitats on this coastline are increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels
and potential saltwater flooding.
Minsmere valley is legally protected by various national and
international designations, including 246ha of Natura 2000 habitat,
protected under European legislation. The work will also protect 12
properties and the reserve’s new visitor centre.
The Environment Agency will raise and improve the Coney Hill Cross Bank
(also known as the North Wall). This will allow continued protection of the
Minsmere valley without interfering with natural coastal processes or
damaging important coastal habitats, landscape and access to the coastal
The axis of weevil – British Waterways
British Waterways is set to release thousands of weed munching weevils
into the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal as it steps up its efforts to tackle
invasive plant species.
The 2mm-long weevils will be released into the canal to eat the invasive
North American water fern (Azolla filiculoides). The weed can be
particularly problematic to the canal network due to its voracious growth
which, if left unchecked, can cover the surface of a waterway with a thick
weedy mat. This reduces light and oxygen levels in the water, killing fish
and other wildlife.
The activity follows the trial of a similar weevil release on the canal
at Maunsel Lock last summer. The weevils are an effective natural means of
tackling the problem of water fern. They are at their most active at this
time of year and breed quickly so they can very rapidly munch their way
through a very large mass of the water fern. The weevils are known to feed
exclusively on azolla and don’t cause damage to native species.
Friday 5 August
reports: End for Wildlife Fund (published after letter and comment – see
The BBC Wildlife Fund, a charity which uses BBC creative skills to
highlight conservation issues, is to be wound up as the BBC focuses its
charitable activities on its bigger, better-known fund-raisers like Children
The Trustees of the fund made the closure decision today, after the BBC
executive board decided to cease support. In a statement this afternoon the
BBCWF said: 'It is with sadness that the trustees have had to make this
decision for they agree the potential of the charity to make a great and
lasting difference to threatened wildlife throughout the world is clear.'
Helen Kellie, chair of the BBCWF said: 'We are proud to have generated
funds enabling us to support vital conservation work for a variety of
wildlife. This includes bringing species back from the brink of extinction.'
BBC Wildlife Fund must not be axed – letter in The Guardian
We are concerned and disappointed at the proposal of the BBC executive to
close the BBC Wildlife Fund (Environment blog, 2 August). The fund, in its
relatively short life, has been an extraordinary success both in raising
some £3m for conservation in the UK and overseas, and in bringing together a
large number of environmental and development NGOs in support. Many have
given a great deal of their time and support to the board of trustees and
the excellent small staff team. Together they have attracted substantial
The major factor in bringing such a group together has been recognition
of the unique position, role and reputation of the BBC in being able to
promote the need for conservation of the natural world to so many across the
world, and its ability to engage the public and generate much needed
additional resources to enable more conservation work to be achieved.
Indeed, in establishing the fund, we believe the BBC recognised the respect
in which its natural history unit is so widely held and the value of its
wonderful and groundbreaking wildlife documentaries to the corporation over
The fund provided a mechanism to further this influence and put something
back into environmental conservation, as well as championing sustainable
outcomes which enable economic betterment for local communities. At a time
of obvious crisis for the world's biodiversity, we can only ask what message
it sends for such an iconic and respected organisation as the BBC to appear
to be drawing back from its support of the living world. It is our hope that
the tremendous work already achieved can continue and that the decision to
close the fund can be reversed.
Click to see the signatories.
Green groups condemn decision to axe BBC Wildlife Fund, Guardian article
following the letter
The heads of 45 groups have written to the BBC chairman, expressing
'considerable disappointment' at proposed closure
Green groups have called on the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, to
reverse the BBC's decision to close its Wildlife Fund. The heads of 45
conservation groups including Greenpeace UK and the RSPB have condemned the
BBC's decision to scrap a major fund that allows viewers to contribute to
projects aimed at bringing back dwindling species from the brink of
The BBC Wildlife Fund was set up in 2007 amid a blaze of publicity, as
part of the popular series Saving Planet Earth, to celebrate 50 years of the
corporation's famous Natural History Unit. Similar in concept to the more
famous Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, its role was to fight for the
preservation of wildlife under threat. andIts success has been built on in
subsequent years with new appeals centred on conservation TV shows.
Model works out trees' maximum height, BBC news report following a paper
published in Plos One
Researchers hope the model will help ecologists improve their
understanding of forest ecosystems
Scientists have developed a mathematical model that predicts the maximum
height trees can reach in particular environmental conditions.
They hope their model will help ecologists get a better understanding of
the relationship between trees and the surrounding ecosystem.
The tool could also help policymakers calculate how climate shifts could
affect timber yields, they added.
The findings have been
published in the journal Plos One.
"The real goal of the model was to produce something that was based in
fundamental mechanisms," explained co-author Chris Kempes, a PhD researcher
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Department of Earth,
Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences.
British lakes and canals hit by toxic algae scum, reported in The
blooms caused by mild weather and high levels of phosphate nutrients from
agriculture washed into the water
A bald coot swims through blue-green algae. Photograph:
British canals and lakes have been blighted this summer by green
porridge-like toxic scum that has been caused by an unusually high number of
algae blooms. A combination of the mild weather and high levels of phosphate
nutrients from agriculture and homes are to blame, says the Environment
This year there have been 83 algal incidents so far, just a month into
the three month-long algae season - a higher than usual amount, according to
the agency. In 2010, the number of incidents reached 225, while the peak
year was recorded in 2005 with 226 reports.