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Headlines from Week Beginning 26 September


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


Monday 26 September 

Overall Winner “Jellyfish in the Blue Sea of Sula Sgeir” by Richard Shucksmith British Wildlife Photography Awards 

BWPA are proud to announce the competition winners for 2011.  

Overall Winner “Jellyfish in the Blue Sea of Sula Sgeir” by Richard Shucksmith

The winning image of a jellyfish was captured by Richard Shucksmith. His photo was taken at Sula Sgeir (meaning Gannet Rock) a small uninhabited Scottish island, 41 miles north of Lewis. The inhospitable area is home to exposed islands sustaining an astounding variety of marine life. The remoteness of these islands, as well as the challenge that comes with visiting them, makes Richard’s incredible photo all the more special.


Greg Armfield, Photography and Film Manager from WWF said “A truly beautiful shot of a jellyfish that perfectly captures its iridescent colours and magical qualities. All the more remarkable that it exists in UK waters. Fantastic.”

Competition judge Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said “We are delighted to see how many people from around the UK were inspired by the competition to explore nature in their local area.  This year’s entries reflected a real passion, and affection, for local wildlife. This competition is a special opportunity to give the natural world that surrounds us the recognition, and reverence, it deserves.”

The winners and a selection of commended entries can be viewed here.


2011 Winner: Habitat (the category sponsored by CJS)

Ian Paul Haskell, Hare in Morning Light with Hoar Frost (Brown Hare, Lepus europaeus)

Ian Paul Haskell, Hare in Morning Light with Hoar Frost (Brown Hare, Lepus europaeus)


The British Wildlife Photography Awards 2011, a beautiful slideshow of the winning entries from The Telegraph

The winners of the 2011 British Wildlife Photography Awards have been announced. These awards recognise the talents of the UK’s foremost wildlife photographers and are unique in that the images must be taken of British wildlife in their natural habitats. Thousands of photographers across the country entered this year's competition. We have selected 30 images for this picture gallery.

All of the images from the British Wildlife Photography Awards are included in a beautiful hardback coffee table book, British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 2, AA Publishing, £25, out 30th September. The images will be on display in a free exhibition at Alexandra Palace from 14th – 28th October before embarking on a year-long nationwide tour.


NPPF again, the weekend roundup of the 'Nationals'

Two from The Telegraph: Tory David Heathcoat-Amory accuses National Trust of 'jihad’

David Heathcoat-Amory, the former shadow minister, says the National Trust is wrong to become involved in the row over planining reforms.

Just when David Cameron hoped that his emollient letter to the director-general of the National Trust, Dame Fiona Reynolds, would calm the row over the Government’s controversial proposed planning reforms, a prominent Conservative has raised the temperature.

David Heathcoat-Amory, the former shadow minister, has accused the charity of becoming involved in “a sort of jihad”.


Second article in The Telegraph: Planning reforms already having an impact on countryside

Controversial planning reforms are already being used to approve building developments that will result in rural countryside being concreted over.

In Rutland, planning inspectors overruled a council decision to reject an application to build 96 houses on an area of countryside that had been designated as protected under local plans, citing the NPPF seven times in the appeal decision   Planning officials have cited the Government's proposed changes to the planning system in a series of contentious decisions even though the new guidelines have yet to come into force.


The Independent: Government breaks pledge to keep developers off farmland

Britain's best farmland will no longer be shielded from development, proposed new planning rules suggest, reversing a pledge made by the Conservatives before the last election.

Instead, the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which is generating fierce opposition from countryside and heritage groups, suggests that even "the best and most versatile agricultural land" can be built on in certain circumstances.


Revealed: Plans for 300,000 homes on green field sites as developers exploit change in rules, in the Daily Mail

Developers are to exploit a controversial change in the planning laws by building more than 300,000 homes on green field sites, campaigners claimed yesterday.

A study by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) found that 230 major projects are already in the pipeline in anticipation of the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework.


State of Britain's Mammals report was published today by People’s Trust for Endangered Species

wildcatThis week People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) releases the tenth anniversary edition of their annual research and conservation report, the State of Britain’s Mammals. The release of the report coincides with an impressive milestone that celebrates £1million that the Trust has raised and awarded over the last ten years towards the conservation of mammals in the UK.

The report, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, focuses on how our mammal species have fared over the past ten years – looking in particular at whether targets set for them have been met.

badgerState of Britain’s Mammals shows that while four of the mammals listed in the mid 1990s – otters, water voles, pipistrelles and greater horseshoe bats – have achieved, or in some cases, even more remarkably, exceeded their targets; some species have been added to the list and are still declining, including some of the most endangered species: red squirrels, Scottish wildcats, mountain hares, harvest mice, hazel dormice, and in rural areas, hedgehogs.

The report also looks at conflict with invasive species, the problem of diseases and examines reintroduction programmes and environmental management schemes.

Download the full report here.


This was picked up by most of the media, here are few links,

A red squirrelMain story on the BBC Red squirrel and hedgehog under threat, study says

The report said red squirrels were almost extinct in England despite efforts to protect them

Red squirrel and hedgehog populations in the UK have continued to fall over the last decade, a report suggests.


The BBC also has a very helpful diagrammatic explanation. Highs and lows for British mammals

This week the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) publish their tenth annual report: The State of Britain's Mammals. The decade has held mixed results for some of our most distinctive species but conservationists are hopeful that past successes can guide future efforts.  How British mammal species are faring


The Guardian version: Red squirrel 'could be extinct within next 20 years'

Oxford University wildlife unit finds biodiversity action plans failing to halt steep decline in dormice, hedgehogs and wildcats


And from the Independent: Britain's beasts – and the battle to save them

UK mammals face serious threats, new study shows, but there's hope

Conservationists are losing their battle to halt the decline of some of Britain's best-loved species, according to a new report published today.


Other news today.

National Trust for Scotland to hold local assemblies reported by the BBC

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) will hold a series of local assemblies next year to help improve the running of the charity, its chairman has said.

Results of a review published last year recommended changes were needed to make the trust "fit for purpose". Following its AGM in Dundee, NTS's chairman Sir Kenneth Calman said the organisation was "embracing change". Local assemblies will be held across Scotland and would involve meetings between staff and communities.

After the meeting, Sir Kenneth said: "The trust is proud to be celebrating its 80th year - it is an organisation with a long history. "But, we are also an organisation with a bright future too and one which is embracing change. That's why from next year, we will be taking the trust out across Scotland to engage in dialogue with our members, communities and partners in a more meaningful and more productive way." He added: "This is an important cultural shift for the organisation showing our commitment to both accountability and co-operation, key principles our new strategy."


Cairngorms National Park of the Future

The Cairngorms National Park Authority is asking people to picture how they want to see their National Park in the future and think about what we can all do to make it happen.
Ten priorities have been proposed by the CNPA for the next five years and over the coming months there will be opportunities for people to tell us whether they agree and how they can help.
CNPA Convenor David Green said: "Our vision is for an outstanding National Park, enjoyed and valued by everyone, where people and nature thrive together and by 2017 we want you to be some way towards feeling this."
The priorities are outlined in the draft Cairngorms National Park Plan 2012-2017. The final version will be a management plan for the Park setting the vision and direction and providing the focus for all those responsible for managing the area.
He added: "What's in the Park Plan will affect things like what support is available to land managers, how we prioritise effort to conserve species and habitats, the way communities can deliver their action plans, the opportunities people have for recreation and enjoying the Park and opportunities to grow the economy. We will do our very best to manage this but we need everyone's help in telling us what the priorities should be and how they can help make it happen."


Tuesday 27 September

Labour to attempt rebrand as 'party of the countryside' - reported in The Guardian ahead of a speech to be made today at the party conference,

A farmer ploughing a fieldMary Creagh to tell Labour party conference that government is vulnerable on rural affairs such as forests and planning reform

Mary Creagh will tell the Labour conference: 'We want strong rural communities with fair pay at their heart.' Photograph: Graham Franks/Alamy

The Labour party will make an audacious pitch on Tuesday to position itself as the party of the countryside, warning that government plans will see wages cut for adult and child workers in rural areas. The moves follows a turbulent year for the government in the shires, with a U-turn on plans to sell national forests and uproar over a radical overhaul of the planning system.

"We stand up for fairness in the countryside," Mary Creagh, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs will tell the party's annual conference in Liverpool on Tuesday. "We want strong rural communities with fair pay at their heart."


Labour fights planning reforms to win rural vote - Mary Creagh, shadow environment secretary, reported in The Telegraph

Labour wants to ensure brownfield sites are always considered ahead of greenbeltLabour has committed itself to fighting the Government’s overhaul of the planning system, amid fears that large swathes of middle England will be concreted over.

Labour wants to ensure brownfield sites are always considered ahead of greenbelt 

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, set out a number of changes that Labour wanted to see made to the controversial draft National Planning Policy Framework.

The party now joins the National Trust, Countryside Alliance and the Women’s Institute in demanding changes to the draft new planning rules. This newspaper has also launched a campaign urging ministers to rethink the proposals.


Stop the spread of foreign invaders - Scottish Government

All those who use and enjoy Scotland's waters are being encouraged to take three sensible measures to tackle invasive non-native species and minimise their spread.The Check, Clean, Dry campaign was launched by Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson on a visit to Loch Leven in Kinross today. Anglers, boat owners, canoeists and all other water users are being encouraged to:* Check equipment and clothing for live plants and animals * Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothing thoroughly  * Dry all equipment and clothing, as some species can live for many days in moist conditions


Precious upland habitat threat from asulam ban - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is calling for the reverse of an EU Commission ban on the only means of controlling invasive bracken on moorland and upland pastures, home to a wide range of special plants, birds and other rare species.  The results of this decision could have huge implications for the future conservation of our precious uplands, including many Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves.

As well as suppressing plant habitats, bracken Pteridium aquilinum has toxic qualities.  It can harm livestock and can also pose a health risk to humans and animals because it is a haven for disease carrying ticks which spread Lyme disease.   Bracken has spread significantly due to widespread and long term changes to grazing practices.  However, the most effective control for this highly invasive species has been blocked by a Brussels committee despite intensive lobbying from conservation organisations in England and Scotland.

Dr Alastair Leake, Policy Director with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust said, “Bracken is a well-adapted pioneer plant, which can dominate large areas of moorland. We currently have just one effective weapon against this highly invasive species and the EU Commission has just banned this product. Bracken is not such a problem in other EU Countries, but it is a major issue on uplands in the United Kingdom.  This will have serious ramifications for us.”

Asulam was banned by the EU’s European Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health over concerns about the chemical’s safety when used on spinach and other food crops.


Rare bats found at Culzean Country Park in Ayrshire. - BBC news report

Leisler BatLeisler's bats were among seven species of bats recorded during the project

Two rare bat species have been discovered by a conservation team at Culzean Country Park in South Ayrshire.

The Nathusius' pipistrelle and Leisler's bats were found during an ecological survey at the estate.

A total of seven species of bats were recorded during the project, with evidence being present to suggest the possible presence of two more.

If these are confirmed it will mean that all known bat species in Scotland are present in one location.

Survey leader Claudia Gebhardt said: "Finding these rare bats in Ayrshire is a real achievement. Before this discovery, nobody knew if these species actually occurred in this part of Scotland.


Study finds decline in dolphins around Cornish coast - Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Bottlenose dolphin jumping, photo by Adrian LangdonThe number of bottlenose dolphins around Cornwall’s coast could be declining according to a new study by the University of Exeter and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Sightings and strandings of dolphins, porpoises and whales, collectively known as cetaceans, from around the Cornish coast have been collected and recorded by Cornwall Wildlife Trust for many years. This data formed the basis of the research project between the Trust and the University of Exeter.

Stephen Pikesley, an MSc student from the University of Exeter’s Tremough Campus in Penryn, has analysed the long term datasets on cetacean sightings and strandings off the coast of Cornwall. He has identified whether changes had occurred in the number of sightings and strandings since the early 1990s. 18 species were recorded sighted and/or stranded, with the most frequently seen being bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and minke whales.

The study showed that the average size of bottlenose dolphin groups had halved during the study period, and the relative proportion of harbour porpoises and minke whales sighted around the Cornish coast had increased.


Wednesday 28 September

Natural England Board recommends new National Park Boundaries

The expansion of two of England’s finest National Parks reached a major milestone today as Natural England’s Board agreed to proceed with recommendations to significantly expand the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, increasing their combined area by nearly 500km2.

If confirmed by the Secretary of State, the new areas would join the ranks of some of the country’s most highly protected landscapes and would amount to the most significant addition to England’s National Parks since the confirmation of the South Downs in 2009.


Changes agreed for North York Moors National Park Authority

 Members of the North York Moors National Park Authority today agreed to a number of changes to the organisation’s staffing and services to meet a real term reduction of 35% in its funding. The decision comes after extensive consultation with staff, residents, visitors and stakeholders.

The changes will take place between now and 2014 and will see six full-time and six part-time staff made redundant including one of the Authority’s directors. A number of staff will also be placed on a lower graded post or will see a reduction in their working hours. The changes agreed today will bring savings of £1 million and are in addition to considerable savings and efficiencies already implemented.


Planning reforms are bigger threat to our countryside than forest sell-off says Caroline Lucas writing in The Guardian

Every field, hedgerow, marsh, heath and moor is jeopardised by these proposals – as is our local democracy

People enjoying the view from near the Devil's Dyke, on the South Downs, SussexPeople enjoying the view from near the Devil's Dyke, on the South Downs, Sussex.

Photograph: John Miller/ NTPL/John Miller

Given the public's emphatic rejection of the plans to sell off our forests, you might have thought the government would tread more carefully with its reforms to the planning system.

But no. The proposed new planning framework now out to consultation is, if anything, a worse threat to our countryside, because "economic development" (read "developers' profits") will override environmental protection not just for our woods but for every field, hedgerow, marsh, heath and moor in England. These plans will also help accelerate the decline of inner cities and high streets by encouraging more urban sprawl. And they are a further attack on local democracy.

No wonder so many people are up in arms. And it's not just conservation groups like the National Trust and campaigners in the Women's Institute who are appalled by the proposals. The speed and intensity of the backlash right across society – including the Telegraph's heavyweight campaign – is encouraging. In part, this is because the people have so many reasons to oppose the plans.


Thursday 29 September

A day of (mostly) good news for the National Parks

In response to yesterday's announcement by Natural England to advice the expansion of the Yorkshire Dales National Park


National Park welcomes boundary changes - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Plans to extend the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and add another 162 square miles of land to it have been welcomed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA)

Natural England proposed that the boundaries of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Parks should be enlarged to absorb different areas of land sandwiched between them.

The Board of Natural England yesterday announced the long-awaited decision that will see the inclusion in the Yorkshire Dales National Park of:

to the north, parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang and

to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, the River Lune and part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the river.

The area covered by the National Park will increase from 680sq miles to 842sq miles.

David Butterworth, the YDNPA’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that Natural England’s Board is now taking forward the process to extend the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The farmers and landowners who, for generations, have lived and worked in these places have helped create the great natural beauty and many special qualities that visitors enjoy today – and that make the areas worthy of National Park status.Orton Fells (Friends of the Lake District)"


National Park campaigners salute boost for Cumbria’s forgotten landscapes - Campaign for National Parks

The Friends of the Lake District and the Campaign for National Parks have joined together to welcome yesterday’s decision by Natural England to make the formal orders that are required to extend the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.


Broads Authority is rewarded for work in sustainable tourism for a second time - Broads Authority

 An accolade that recognises the Broads Authority as a leader in sustainable tourism for a second time was awarded at the largest Europarc Conference for years in Southern Germany last week.
The new president of the Europarc Federation,Thomas Hansson, presented the award to Bruce Hanson of the Broads Authority in front of an audience of 320 people from more than 20 countries.
Thirteen parks gained the Charter for the first time, and five, including the Broads Authority, were re-awarded it.
A total of 89 out of 440 protected areas hold the charter in 35 European countries


The vehicle was found parked next to the summit visitors' centre And the bad news: Criticism as a 4x4 is driven to Snowdon summit again - BBC news report

The vehicle was found parked next to the summit visitors' centre

Police and national park officials are investigating reports a 4x4 vehicle has been left near the summit of Snowdon.  It comes less than a month after a similar incident.

Staff at the Snowdonia Mountain Railway arrived at the visitor centre near the summit to find the maroon vehicle parked near the building.

Alan Kendall, general manager of the railway said "This is a very irresponsible thing to do."


 SNH report details landowners' concerns about dogs - BBC News

A dog in waterResearchers said people were highly aware that they should control their dogs

Landowners have complained of "significant problems" with irresponsible dog owners.

A report commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said landowners reported that some people were unable to control their pets around livestock. They also complained about dogs being allowed to run through crops.

SNH commissioned research into attitudes and behaviour since changes to access rights. A key finding was an increased awareness of the rules. The newly published report is called Monitoring responsible behaviour among recreational users and landowners. Outdoors groups, public bodies and private landowners were among those surveyed in 2008 for the research.

The aim of the study was to investigate trends in attitudes and behaviour since rights to public access to the countryside changed under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code came into effect in 2005.  Results were compared to a survey conducted in 2002-03 and a study carried out between 2005-07.

Read the report in full here (pdf download from SNH)


 Forestry Statistics 2011 and Forestry Facts & Figures 2011 published today.

The latest National Statistics on forestry produced by the Forestry Commission were released on 29 September 2011 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Detailed statistics are published in the web publication Forestry Statistics 2011, with an extract in Forestry Facts & Figures 2011.  They include UK statistics on woodland area, planting, timber, trade, climate change, environment, recreation, employment and finance & prices and also some statistics on international forestry.  Where possible, figures are also provided for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Download full Forestry Stats here  and Forestry Facts & Figures here  both PDF downloads


From the Woodland Trust in response:

Need for more trees and better protection confirmed by forest facts summary

The annual summary package of key forestry statistics released today by the Forestry Commission confirms that the UK remains one of the least wooded countries with just 13% forest cover compared to 44% in the rest of Europe. This is despite stated government aspirations towards woodland expansion, warns the Woodland Trust.

Figures released by the Forestry Commission in June, show the rate of woodland creation in the UK  continues to fall short of the need. From more than 18,000ha of new planting per year just 10 years ago, rates fell to less than half that figure in the last planting season. Overall, woodland area has increased from 2,757ha in 2010 to 3,078ha in 2011. However, changes in the size threshold for recording woods account for the majority of this, meaning that this is paper based rather than an actual increase.

In Scotland where targets have been set and financial support strengthened, planting rates have recovered somewhat from last year’s dismal figures. In England planting rates have barely changed - up just 200ha on last year's figure. The Trust is calling on the Government to set targets to achieve the goals outlined in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) and the Natural Environment White Paper for England (NEWP) which both called for a substantial increase in tree and woodland cover.

Sue Holden, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said: "Statistics alone really do not demonstrate the position the country is in and the figures released today are in stark contrast to stated government aspirations towards woodland protection and expansion. We need to double native woodland cover to realise the many environmental, social and economic benefits of woods and trees, and to do this we need to plant around 15,000ha every year for the next 50 years. This is a huge task, but it's not impossible.


Friday 30 September

Proposed National Park Boundary changes, not everyone is happy.

Guardian leader:  In praise of … Westmorland

Lancashire residents are unhappy about being placed in the Yorkshire Dales, while Yorkshire fears that its Dales authenticity is being diluted


National Park changes sparks new War of the Roses - Telegraph

Plans to create a giant national park across the north of England have triggered a bizarre row that has inflamed a centuries old rivalry between two neighbouring counties.

The controversial proposals to create a continuous band of protected land across the north of England will see the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Lake District National Park being increased so they meet on either side of the M6.

The plans are set to be approved this week by Natural England before being taken to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the final decision.

However, the project has sparked a modern day War of the Roses by suggesting a small corner of Lancashire be included in the area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The proposals have caused heated rows over what the new extended park should be called and led to claims that the increase in size will dilute the unique character of the Yorkshire Dales.

 The Cumbria boundary in Mallerstang, one of the areas proposed for inclusion in an enlarged Yorkshire Dales park

County will fight national park extension 'tooth and nail' reports Liz Roberts, on The Grough
The Cumbria boundary in Mallerstang, one of the areas proposed for inclusion in an enlarged Yorkshire Dales park

A county council has said it will fight ‘tooth and nail’ proposals to extend the national park boundaries in its area.

Cumbria County Council said the plans were anti-democratic and pandered to those who ‘see Cumbria as a nice place to holiday rather than somewhere to live’.


More on the NPPF.

Our vision for a planning framework fit for purpose - The National Trust

Following assurances from the Prime Minister that the planning system should continue to serve the public interest by balancing social and environmental benefits with those of the economy, today we set out our positive vision including the top line requirements for a planning system which can deliver that balance.

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published by the Coalition Government in July, threatened to put short-term economic gain ahead of all other considerations, including the impact on local communities and local green spaces.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, our Director-General, said: “We  warmly  welcomed the Prime Minister’s intervention; our task now is to play a full part in the consultation process until we are satisfied that the final planning regulation reflects his assurances, providing a neutral framework which decision makers can use to achieve balance."

Have a look at the Planning for People campaign website or download the manifesto.(pdf)


reed warblerCanals are a haven for reed warblers - Waterscape (from British Waterways)

The elusive reed warbler is alive and well on the UK’s navigations, research from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) shows. Numbers of the birds have been increasing on manmade canals and rivers, despite an overall decline in the species nationwide.

Numbers of reed warblers, whose call is a classic sign of the British summer, have increased by 48% on British Waterways’ canals and rivers in England and Wales compared to a 4% reduction on UK waterways as a whole in the past decade. The key reason for the rise is improved water quality and better conservation of reed bed habitat.


Asulam - some good news from The Heather Trust

There is a route that can be followed to make Asulam available into the future.
The meeting organised by United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL) took place in York, yesterday.  In advance of a more detailed statement from UPL, I provide a snapshot of the outcomes of the meeting.  Many uncertainties remain, and there is much detail still to be considered and clarified, but there is a good possibility that the use of Asulam can be retained in the long, medium and short terms.


World beneath the waves revealed in new report - Scottish Natural Heritage

For the first time the range of stunning landforms hidden beneath Scotland's seas has been highlighted in a new report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

As part of a project to identify marine habitats of high conservation value, earth science experts have prioritised 34 key geological and geomorphological areas of national and international interest on the Scottish seabed.

Evocative names such as the Devil's Hole, the Wee Bankie, the Pockmark complex and Pilot Whale Diapirs describe seabed features that include deep trenches extending for tens of kilometres; vast underwater ridges and mounds formed by the Ice Age glaciers; giant depressions on the sea floor; and submerged caves and extinct volcanoes.

It is the first time that marine geodiversity interests have been investigated at a national level. Together with detailed information on marine wildlife and habitats, the report will contribute to a national overview of the marine environment.



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