A round up of the top stories as chosen by the CJS Team.
Monday 21 November
Beavers released in Machynlleth enclosure - BBC Nature
manager Sharon Girardi says one day wild beavers may return to Wales.
Beavers have been extinct in the wild in Wales for probably 400 years.
That's no longer strictly true as two female European beavers have been
introduced into a 2.5 acre enclosure over the weekend in Cwm Einion near
These beavers could be the first of many to be "set free" in as natural
environment as possible.
They have a pond to live in, secure behind chicken wire, stock fencing,
weld mesh and an electric fence.
According to one of the group of conservation volunteers at Blaeneinion
Farm their enclosure is "like Fort Knox".
Within minutes of leaving the cage they'd travelled in from the
south-west of England, both beavers were swimming and exploring their new
They seemed inquisitive and unafraid of the dozen or so people who were
watching with interest.
Apart from a £5,000 Big Lottery grant this is a privately funded project
to monitor and assess how beavers live and how they might fare as a species
if moves to reintroduce them to the wild in Wales next year go ahead. The
North Wales Wildlife Trust is consulting on the benefits of reintroducing
extinct species and will need the approval of the Welsh government and the
Countryside Council for Wales.
The Beavers at
Two female European beavers were released on 19th November 2011 into a
completely secure 2.5 acre enclosure here at Blaeneinion. The project is
The sisters were released into their lodge, and emerged a few minutes
later to explore their new territory. An emotional moment, and the
culmination of months of hard physical work, sensitive negotiations and
fleeting moments of questioning our collective sanity.
disappointed by NFU president's biodiversity speech
The RSPB has moved to reassure farmers that their efforts to help nature
are as necessary as ever after controversial comments by NFU president Peter
In a speech this week Mr Kendall called for ministers to switch
agricultural policy away from biodiversity, and concentrate more on
productivity. The RSPB has responded by backing Government ambition to marry
biodiversity with food production.
The NFU and RSPB are partners in the Campaign for the Farmed Environment
which encourages farmers to put in place wildlife measures on their land. Mr
Kendall’s latest comments threaten to undermine this approach.
Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “I am saddened by the
words I have heard coming from Peter Kendall this week which could undermine
all the hard work being done by farmers, the Government and conservationists
to help our threatened farmland wildlife.
Badger cull 'will stretch police and put lives at risk' - The
Culling thousands of badgers in Britain could spark dangerous
confrontations between armed farmers and animal rights protesters which
would stretch police resources, ministers have been warned.
has showed culling badgers in a particular area over the long term can
reduce incidence of bovine TB Photo: ALAMY
Lives could be put at risk if marksmen tasked with killing the animals
clash with campaigners trying to disrupt the planned cull, Britain’s
domestic extremism police chief said.
Trying to police potential flashpoints would leave many forces struggling
to cope, at a time when resources are already under pressure due to major
security challenges such as the London 2012 Olympics, it is claimed.
Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to make an
announcement within weeks on whether farmers will be allowed to control the
badger population, which is blamed for spreading bovine TB to cattle. She
has proposed a cull in two pilot areas next summer.
In a memo to the Government, Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian
Tudway, the national coordinator for domestic extremism, warned of the
dangers the cull could present. “Any option that includes farmers and
landowners culling badgers with firearms has potential to place armed farm
workers in the near vicinity of protesters and activists, typically during
the night-time,” he wrote.
Tuesday 22 November
When speaking at the Agricultural Industries
Confederation on 16 November NFU President Peter Kendall really started
Kendall challenges ‘deliberate misunderstanding’ - NFU
NFU President Peter Kendall will today (21/11/11) insist that a very
necessary improvement in the UK’s agricultural productivity should not be at
the expense of the natural environment, and challenge the ‘deliberate
misunderstanding’ of the issue that has prevailed over the past few days.
Speaking at the Centre for Excellence in UK Farming (UKCEF) conference at
Kenilworth this afternoon, Mr Kendall will highlight the efforts the farming
industry has made to improve the environment, and its commitment to continue
doing so in the coming years.
But he will emphasise the pressing need to lift agricultural productivity
in the face of rapidly rising global demand for food, and the vital role
that science will have to play in enabling British farming to achieve its
ambition of ‘producing more, but impacting less’. The challenge is more
complex and difficult than just lifting agricultural productivity”, Mr
Kendall will say. “We have to do it at the same time as reducing our
environmental footprint, and from diminishing, and therefore increasingly
costly, natural resources. There has been some deliberate misunderstanding
of our position on this in recent days. When we say, as we do, that
agricultural productivity must be stepped up, that does not mean that we
want it stepped up at the expense of the environment.
Biodiversity Crisis: What Biodiversity Crisis? Blog from Miles King,
Director of Conservation at The Grasslands Trust
NFU president Peter Kendall, speaking at a farming conference last week,
claimed there was no biodiversity crisis but “what we do have is a
productivity crisis”. He used this argument to lobby Government to increase
public sector funding for research and development into ways to increase
productivity, as well as taking a potshot at the European Commission’s
proposals to reform the CAP and in particular on “greening” the direct
payments landowners currently receive for owning farmland. I have already
blogged about how damaging are the current proposals for permanent pasture,
and Peter has implored farmers not to start ploughing up their grasslands.
Kendall’s remarks, given that they are NFU’s corporate position, came in
for some pretty severe criticism from a number of people notably the RSPB’s
current and former Director’s of Conservation.
I’m going to start today by looking at whether there is a biodiversity
crisis or not.
Is Peter right, that there is no biodiversity crisis now? Well of course
it depends on what you mean by biodiversity, and then what measures you use
to assess its status. I can go into a great deal of detail on this, as it’s
one of my specialist subjects, but I won’t. What I will say is that it makes
sense to focus on those species and habitats that have been identified as
priorities in a reasonably objective approach, that has taken 20 years to
develop (this is the process for identifying species and habitats or
principal importance as defined in the NERC Act). I would argue that it
makes more sense to use this approach than, for example, someone deciding
that the magpie or ragwort are the types of biodiversity to measure to
assess whether there is a biodiversity crisis or not.
New conservation areas announced - Wildlife Trusts
As a major expansion of the European Union’s Natura 2000 sites is
announced, The Wildlife Trusts are calling for more stringent protection
measures to be put in place. Without them, there is a risk the network will
be ineffective, says the conservation organisation.
Natura 2000* is the European Union’s network of protected areas. It
consists of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection
Areas (SPAs). Human activities can be carried out inside the
network provided they are sustainable and do not harm the natural
Today’s announcement includes 13 new SACs to protect cold water corals
and sand banks in UK waters. But The Wildlife Trusts are concerned
that current and proposed management measures within SACs are failing to
provide adequate protection.
Sussex Awash with Owls! Blogs Mike Russell (Sussex Wildlife Trust)
short-eared owl / Rick Leche
Well short-eared owls actually! There has been an ‘invasion’ this autumn
with many birds being seen across the county, and what a wonderful sight it
is too! A good thing about short-eared owls is that they fly in daylight,
particularly from mid-afternoon onwards and the likelihood is that they
could stay much of the winter, providing we don’t get a long cold spell
where the ground is frozen for a significant period.
Just 30 pairs of barn owls left in Northern Ireland - Belfast Telegraph
report on a new campaign by Ulster Wildlife Trust
The number of barn owls in Northern Ireland has dropped by nearly 90%
over the last 80 years, with just 30 breeding pairs estimated to be left
here. Now the Ulster Wildlife Trust is calling on wildlife lovers to stand
up for nature and ensure the future of this magnificent bird is secure.
The conservation charity is embarking on a major campaign to promote the
welfare of barn owls with the estimated number of breeding pairs in Northern
Ireland dwindling from around 250 in the 1930s to about 30 now. The
reasons for this dramatic decline includes habitat loss, the destruction of
nest sites in trees and old buildings, agricultural intensification, and
consumption of pest control chemicals left to kill rodents.
Read more about the
Wednesday 23 November
Battle to save red squirrel ‘must go on for ten more years’ - Reported
in The Scotsman
squirrels not only out-compete their red counterparts for food, but carry a
pox that is lethal to the endangered squirrels
A project to trap and kill tens of thousands of grey squirrels to protect
their red cousins must continue for another decade or the species could
vanish from Scotland, a charity has warned.
The three-year Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel (SSRS) project will run out
of funding in spring, but organisers say it is crucial the culling scheme
Scotland is home to about three-quarters of the UK’s red squirrels, but
they could die out because of the larger grey. SSRS is hoping organisations
that have backed the £1.3 million cost of the first three years of the
scheme will again come up with funding, but it is worried about the impact
of the current financial climate. Dr Mel Tonkin, project manager,
said: “With government budget cuts already biting, it is not yet clear what
resources government agencies will be able to commit to a project
continuation.” She added that “cessation of trapping would set us back
to our starting point”.
Jonny Hughes, director of conservation for the Scottish Wildlife Trust,
the lead project partner, said he thought another decade of trapping was
needed to get to a stage where red squirrels were safe in strongholds in
Scotland. “It’s very important it carries on. We need to keep the effort
up,” he said.
Find out more about the
A new Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for Wales - Welsh Government
has a new Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) following an
announcement today (Tues 22/11) by Environment Minister, John Griffiths.
The River Dee. Image copyright Denbighshire County Council
The Environment Minister has agreed that an area of approximately 230
square kilometres situated in the counties of Wrexham and Denbighshire will
be made an AONB. This will result in the boundary of the existing Clwydian
Range AONB being significantly extended.
This is first time that Welsh Ministers have made a decision on the
designation of an AONB and will result in Wales’ first new Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty for 26 years.
The decision follows the Minister’s consideration of an order by the
Countryside Council for Wales.
Deer most recognised Scottish animal, survey finds
news on SNH report
respondents to the survey were worried about the hunting of deer
Deer are the type of wildlife the public associate most with Scotland,
according to a survey commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Consultants interviewed 1,055 people to gather views on species, habitats
and management of wildlife.
The results showed 73% of respondents associated deer with Scotland, 71%
did so in a similar survey last year.
The latest survey also reported 27% associated golden eagles with
Scotland, 26% grouse and 25% red squirrels.
Of respondents who expressed concern about threats to wildlife most, 37%,
were worried about the fate of red squirrels.
Deer were the type of animal respondents were second most concerned
the full report (PDF download).
Maternal behaviour in marine mammals - University of St Andrews
seal mother and pup ‘nosing’. Credit/copyright: Durham University.
Grey seals have different types of personality that affect the extent to
which they guard and care for their young, according to new research.
Looking at seal colonies in Scotland, researchers from the Universities
of St Andrews and Durham, found that seal mothers are often unpredictable
and adopt a wide variation of mothering styles when it comes to checking on
their pups. Some are very attentive while others are not, the researchers
The St Andrews-Durham study shows, for the first time, the extent of
personality differences in marine mammals in the wild. It shows how
individual animals have differing behavioural ‘styles’, and how they may be
limited in their ability to respond to different environments; a concern in
a world of rapid environmental change and changing resources.
The study could have benefits for future conservation policy, habitat
management and reveals new information about the process of evolution.
The first results are published in the journal Marine Mammal Science and
will be presented at the 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine
Mammals conference in Tampa, Florida, USA (27 November – 2 December).
Thursday 24 November
state of the UK's birds 2011 (RSPB release on behalf of the partners)
This is the 12th The state of the UK's birds (SUKB) report. It contains
results from annual, periodic and one-off surveys and studies from as
recently as 2010, drawing on many sources of information to give an
up-to-date overview of the status of bird populations in the UK and its
To mark the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, SUKB
2011 has a particular focus on waterbirds and their conservation. We review
the impact of the Convention on waterbird conservation in the UK
Duck down: new report reveals changing fortunes of wetland birds - RSPB
report shows that the mallard - Britain's most familiar duck - has hit a new
Signs of dramatic changes for some wetland birds, including the mallard,
are reported today as some species reach their highest and lowest recorded
population levels in the UK in winter.
Millions of ducks, geese, swans and wading birds escaping the Arctic
winter in northern Europe, Siberia, Greenland and Canada, head for our
shores, making the UK one of the most important European countries for
However, there are signs of dramatic changes for some wetland birds with
a few reaching their highest and lowest population levels in the UK in
The latest population figures on wetland birds - and a host of other
species are - contained in the State of the UK’s Birds 2011 report –
published by a coalition of conservation organisations. The report provides
a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the results of bird surveys and monitoring schemes and
projects from across the UK from as recently as 2010.
Overall, numbers of wintering waterbirds have been in shallow decline
since the late 1990s, but the underlying story is more complex.
Download the full report from BTO. (pdf)
Thousands of people say 'Save a Space for Me' - Fields in Trust
Parks and playing fields protected forever with public voter power
Friday 18th November saw the end of Save a Space for Me; a month long
online campaign to support outdoor spaces nominated to be safeguarded as
part of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge. Over 20,000 people from
councillors, members of the public and sports leaders showed their support
for fields with over 10,000 web visits recorded on the day of launch alone.
You can find out the results of the votes online with an interactive search,
Download the full list. (pdf)
Report reveals route to get the nation walking - Ramblers
With the obesity epidemic rising, and inactivity at an all time high, a
report released today (24 November) reveals a successful route to get the
nation walking its way to health.
The Ramblers pioneering Get Walking Keep Walking programme has shown
astounding success in getting some of Britain’s most inactive people to
their feet, according to an independent report¹. With only approximately 1/3
of the country reaching the recommended amount of exercise each week, it is
clear the nation needs to get moving but achieving long term change has
always been a challenging task.
Get Walking Keep Walking has worked in deprived areas of Birmingham,
London, Manchester and Sheffield and has achieved success by focusing on
helping inactive people walk within their own communities, for both
transport and pleasure, and has already helped more than 87,500people take
their first steps to a healthier lifestyle. A startling 70% of ‘inactive'²
people who took part showed a sustained increase in activity levels and 88%
of all participants reported an increase in mental wellbeing.
EU sounds alarm for threatened freshwater species - BBC news report on
publication of the latest European Red List
nature reserve: Europe's rivers are home to many threatened species
Many of Europe's freshwater fish and molluscs are now threatened species,
a new EU study shows.
The European Commission called for urgent action to preserve the
diversity of Europe's wildlife.
Pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and alien species are blamed for the
decline in species.
The latest findings are based on a study of some 6,000 species for the
European Red List - an assessment of threats to wildlife.
The list of Europe's threatened species includes 44% of all freshwater
molluscs, 37% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 19% of reptiles, 15% of
mammals and dragonflies and 13% of birds.
The Commission says 467 plant species are also under threat, including
wild varieties of crops such as sugar beet, wheat, oats and lettuce. Such
species are "vital for food security yet are often neglected in terms of
conservation," the Commission says.
Commission has urged the 27 EU member states to adopt sustainable farming
and forestry methods to halt biodiversity loss.
European Red List
IUCN and the European Commission have been working together on an
initiative to assess around 6,000 European species according to IUCN
regional Red Listing Guidelines.
honours for Forestry Commission in prestigious landscape awards -
The Forestry Commission scooped double honours for its work in North West
England in the Landscape Institute’s prestigious national awards
Its transformation of Old Pale Farm at Delamere Forest, Cheshire, into a
popular visitor attraction complete with an outdoor concert venue won the
award for Landscape Designs Greater Than 5 Hectares (12.5 acres) in the
annual Landscape Institute Awards.
The judges’ notes said Old Pale Community woodland is “an outstanding
example of a large-scale landscape. The strong design concept responded well
to the historic, ecological and geological sensitivities of the site. The
panel particularly liked the manipulation of views through the woodland,
guiding visitors to the summit and the surprise panorama of seven counties."
They added that the project had “contributed to Delamere becoming a key
destination in Cheshire”.
To Review The Maps Of Open Country And Registered Common Land
Early notice for landowners and others with an interest….
Every ten years, the Countryside Council for Wales is required by law to
review the maps of open access to mountain, moor, heath, downland and
registered common land in Wales.
The process will start in mid July 2012, when CCW will issue the draft
maps of open country and registered common land.Based on these, landowners
and anyone with an interest will be able to make representations.
Discussions with landowners and all interest groups will be an essential
part of the mapping review. CCW is looking forward to working closely with
the farming unions, individual landowners, and user groups to ensure that
awareness of the review is high, starting now and throughout the process
until the conclusive maps are published in September 2014.
Our aim is to ensure that the process is open, transparent and gives all
interested parties the opportunity to review access in their area of
Friday 25 November
Forestry Recommissioned - Quality not quantity is the key for England’s
woodlands, says new Plantlife report
at Ranscombe Farm reserve. © Plantlife
With the Independent Panel on Forestry’s first statement just weeks away,
Plantlife shifts the focus from ownership with a report which shows that,
despite there being more woodland than 20 years ago, our woodland flora,
butterflies and birds are still declining. More woodland is too simple a
response – we need better woodland.
Woodland wildlife in decline – some key facts:
• The Public Forest
Estate is vital for England’s local, rare and declining wild flowers – more
than a third occur on PFE land, including 95% of the UK population of
• One in six woodland flowers is threatened with
• The Woodland Bird Indicator is at its lowest level since
• The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme shows a 56% decrease in
characteristic woodland butterflies
Plantlife’s new report ‘Forestry Recommissioned: bringing England's
woodlands back to life’, published today, reveals that a lack of management
has led to darker woods where plants cannot flourish and, as they have
declined, so has the wildlife that depends on them.
'Over the last 50
years, England’s woodlands have become increasingly dark, overgrown and
silent' says Victoria Chester, Plantlife’s Chief Executive. 'Plantlife has a
vision which will bring them back to life.'
Download full report. (pdf)
Review, final report published.
The Mar Lodge Independent Review Panel today (24 November 2011) presented
its report to the Board of the National Trust for Scotland. The Panel has
carried out a review of the management of moorland, woodland and deer at the
Mar Lodge Estate, Braemar and made a total of eight recommendations.
On behalf of the Panel, the Chairman David Windmill said: “If implemented
in full these recommendations will address many of the issues currently
facing Mar Lodge Estate and enable the Trust to achieve its goal of
successfully integrating the conservation of the Caledonian pine forest with
managing a commercial Highland sporting estate.”
The Panel spent five months talking to a wide range of organisations and
individuals to gain as broad an understanding as possible of the many
opportunities and constraints that the Trust faces in its management of the
estate. The Panel also met representatives of the Braemar Community Council
to learn of the importance of Mar Lodge Estate to the local community.
David said: “We would like to thank most sincerely all those people who
contributed to our review.”
Read the full report here. (pdf)
for Mar Lodge report from National Trust for Scotland
Conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland has welcomed an
independent report into its management of the Mar Lodge Estate near Braemar
The 29,000 hectare estate, which contains internationally important
geology, flora, fauna, wild landscapes, built heritage and archaeology is
the largest property owned by the conservation charity. The independent
review commenced in May 2011 and panel members were asked to consider the
Trust’s approach to woodland, moorland and deer management at Mar Lodge
Estate – with specific reference to deer culling and fencing – following
sustained criticism from some quarters.
Trust Chairman, Sir Kenneth Calman said: “My fellow Trustees and I
are very grateful for this full examination of the complex issues at Mar
Lodge Estate. Clearly, the review is informed by a wide range of views and
we are grateful to everyone who has played a part in the process. The
recommendations will now be carefully considered to determine how we take
them forward, in the best interests of this extraordinary place.”
Scottish Wildlife Trust also welcomed the report.
Jonathan Hughes, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Director of Conservation
said: “In our view NTS has made a real difference to conservation in the
Cairngorms since taking on Mar Lodge Estate. It is fantastic to see such a
big area within the Cairngorms National Park being managed for nature,
heritage and public access so well. The estate is effectively now a valuable
public asset and that is to be celebrated.
Did you go nuts for PTES? Results of the 2011 Great Nut Hunt now in.
The latest Great Nut Hunt found nearly 17,000 nibbled nuts and identified
69 new dormice sites.
Nut hunts will always be a useful way of doing wide-scale searches to
determine the presence of hazel dormice. Currently the method has limits in
that woods and hedges without hazel are not included in these nut hunts.
However there is evidence that other food sources (cherry stones and ash
keys) will also bear the tell-tale marks left by dormice, though to what
extent is not yet known and whether they can be used on such a large scale
will need further investigation.
Even though the Golden GNH was the third national survey to search for
evidence of dormice it still remained popular with the general public. Just
over 1,000 people went out and surveyed following almost 4,000 people
registering for packs. Even though most people didn’t undertake a survey
they will still have learnt something about hazel dormice and the efforts
being made to conserve them.
The third GNH was very successful in turning up new sites for dormice,
but unfortunately less successful in getting people to revisit known sites
to check whether dormice are still present, even though much effort was made
to direct people to those woods.
full report here.