A round up of the top stories as chosen by the CJS Team.
News from over the Christmas break
The CET from time to time receives recognition of the valuable work we do, the things that we achieve and the activities we offer. Sometimes these are in the form of testimonials from visitors, of the formal kind from a visiting teacher or celebrity to those from children who have simply had a great time. Sometimes there are recognised awards. All are a reward to all those involved with the Trust, in whatever capacity, and who believe in what we do… and we put some of them on the website.
River Tweed squirrel pox outbreak action plan in place - BBC news article on reports from Red Squirrels in South Scotland
Southern Scotland is seen as a key area in protecting the country's red squirrels
An "intensive" action plan has started to tackle a squirrel pox outbreak around the River Tweed in Berwickshire. Traps are being offered to the public in order to catch and kill grey squirrels in the area. The virus has no apparent effect on the greys but is invariably fatal to their red counterparts. Scotland is one of the UK's last red squirrel strongholds, with the south of the country seen as being on the frontline of conservation efforts. The organisation said post mortem examinations had confirmed the outbreak around the River Tweed. The public has been advised not to put out garden feeders as a measure to help stop the disease spreading. Estates on both sides of the river have already removed a number of the animals.
'Worst ever' storm damage at Edinburgh botanic garden - BBC news report on events at RGBE
Dr Ian Edwards said the loss of this oak tree was "a tragedy"
The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh has been counting the cost of this week's severe weather.
Hundreds of panels have been smashed in glass houses. The garden is repairing them as quickly as possible, but it will take much longer to replace more than 40 trees blown over in the storms. They include some specimens which were hundreds of years old, and others which were important in the history of the collection. They include a Chinese Tree of Heaven which was collected at the beginning of the 20th Century by the pioneering plant hunter Joseph Rock.
Dr Ian Edwards from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (RBGE) told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "it's very sad to see some of my personal favourites, everybody's favourite trees, that have been damaged." He said the damage was the worst he could remember in almost 30 years of working at the garden.
Science highlights how cutting hedgerows less frequently can benefit wildlife - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
A typical English Hedgerow
A study into the effectiveness of hedgerow management options in agri-environment schemes (AES), such as Environmental Stewardship in England (ES) has found that cutting hawthorn hedges every three years, or in late winter, can substantially increase resources to benefit wildlife.
The most popular ES options in England currently specify cutting hedgerows once every two years, while standard practice outside the scheme is for annual trimming. An alternative ES option involves cutting once in three years.
“These emerging results have national and even international implications as there are an increasing number of countries implementing AES or other forms of hedgerow management regulations,” said lead author, Dr Joanna Staley. Dr Staley continued, “Going forward, we are broadening the research to cover a wider range of hedgerow species and across more sites to allow us to generate robust evidence to help improve future policies.”
Protecting our wildlife - Scottish Government
The latest reforms to modernise the management of wildlife in Scotland come into force today (1 January). The second commencement order of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 introduces a new offence of vicarious liability in relation to the persecution of wild birds. This offence allows for the prosecution of those minority of landowners or managers who fail to take the appropriate steps to ensure their employees and contractors act within the law. The legislation also includes measures for a new hare close season, changes to the deer act and snaring law
Rural business leaders will have a hotline to the heart of Government through the creation of new Rural and Farming Networks, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice announced today (4 January). This means that they will be able to directly shape future rural policies.
Fourteen networks representing different areas of England have been set up to identify and feed back local issues and concerns straight to the heart of Government, in order to make policies more rural-friendly.
The Networks bring together people from rural communities, rural businesses and the food and farming industries. They will make a direct link between rural areas and the Government, creating new opportunities to develop better and more targeted policy.
Each group will be a point of contact providing feedback to Defra on the impact of local emergencies – such as flooding - so that the right kind of assistance can be provided to keep businesses running.
News for Monday 9 January.
An influx of storm-blown young seals have been taken to our wildlife centres for help after bad weather hit just as they had been weaned.
There are now nearly 60 very sick seals in the four centres, located at different ends of the country, with a large number of them arriving in the last windy week.
Young seals unable to cope in stormy waters It is thought that the rough weather came at the worst time possible for grey seal pups - just at the point when they had been left by their mothers and were set to launch themselves into the sea on their own.
East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk is caring for a total of 41 seals, at least 24 of which have arrived during the recent bad weather. Alison Charles, manager at the centre said: " There have been about four coming in a day since the wind started, most of them just unable to deal with the conditions out there. There have been some older common seals who are very sick and covered with wounds from being bashed against the pebbly beach, but most are juvenile grey seals.
All four of our wildlife centres were affected – with many seals brought to them after being found stranded on beaches or rocks, thought to be victims of stormy conditions
A new survey finds well over four out of five British adults (84 per
cent) believe that farmers have a responsibility to look after the landscape
and wildlife for future generations.
Crisis in Vale of Glamorgan wood shines a light on the growing problem of ‘fly-grazing’ across south Wales
The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) is grappling with an unenviable problem at Monk’s Wood, one of its south Wales wood. 35 horses were abandoned in the wood just before Christmas. The Trust needs to move them as they are trampling the woodland floor, stripping bark off the trees, keeping out visitors, and they will eventually run out of food to browse, causing a real animal welfare issue.
Before Christmas the Trust posted a formal notice under the Animals Act 1971 warning the owner that the Trust would have the right to remove and sell the horses if they were not removed within 14 days. This deadline has now passed but the owner is yet to come forward. Unfortunately, however, none of the animal welfare charities have room for this number of horses in sanctuaries anywhere in the UK, and if the owner does not come forward within a day or so, the future of these animals cannot be guaranteed.
Rugged oil beetle (Meloe rugosus) at
Strawberry Banks © Buglife
Andrew Whitehouse Buglife Conservation Officer, visited Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in November to confirm if historical records that the Stroud valleys are a stronghold for species still holds true. Early results are very encouraging.
Trust ecologist Richard Spyvee recorded an astonishing eleven rugged oil beetles together at Elliot, just before Christmas, and Stroud reserves manager Pete Bradshaw, along with volunteer Gemma Western, found one in November at Strawberry Banks nature reserve, as part of the Trusts ongoing survey and monitoring programme.
More oil-soaked birds washed up on coastline - Scottish Television (STV)
Five more guillemots have been found covered in oil on the Hebridean coast, bringing the total to 17.
Sea Bird: One survived the oil slick and is being cared for. Pic: © STV
Wildlife experts are expecting a rise in the number of seabirds killed in an oil slick off the Western Isles.
Dead guillemots are being discovered along a 130-mile stretch of the Hebridean coastline since a few days after Christmas. Five more dead birds discovered on Thursday brought the total up to 17. It is thought that a ship sailing along the west coast of the Hebrides around Christmas time dumped waste oil into the ocean, affecting the wildlife.
Leading scientists make a plea for fieldwork - Field Studies Council
The ASE’s Outdoor Science Working group – of which the FSC is a founder member - hosted a policy forum at the ASE’s Annual Conference at the University of Liverpool on 5th January 2012, led by a panel which included some of the UK’s most prominent scientists and science educators including Professors Steve Jones (University College London), Rob Marrs (University of Liverpool) and Justin Dillon (King’s College London). Andrew Miller MP, a local constituency MP and chair of the Science and Technology Committee, also participated.
The forum strongly endorsed the view that fieldwork is essential. All of the panel recounted how formal and informal outdoor experiences in their childhood – during walks to school, in nearby allotments and on school trips - had awakened their observational skills and inspired their subsequent decisions to become scientists.
Birds and butterflies lagging behind climate change shift - Reported in
Centre for Hydrology and Ecology , from paper published in Nature
, from paper published in Nature
Photo by Ross Newham
Birds and butterflies are tracking behind the northward shift of their suitable climates, a major new study has indicated. The two groups are also responding to climate change at different rates, which could affect future interactions between the species, such as where birds rely on butterfly larva as a food resource.
This inability to track climate change and the subsequent delay in species response to temperature change has been called “climatic debt”.
In a study published this week in Nature Climate Change, Vincent Devictor (CNRS, France) and colleagues, including David Roy of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, measured and compared the climatic debt accumulated by bird and butterfly communities at a European scale over two decades (1990-2008).
Their research shows that changes in European bird and butterfly communities were rapid but different, but that neither were adjusting their abundance as fast as the northward shift in temperature in Europe.
DNA tests could confirm big cat presence in Gloucestershire - National Trust
Experts are carrying out DNA tests on the carcass of a roe deer found at the National Trust’s Woodchester Park, near Stroud, amid speculation that it could have been brought down by a big cat. A local walker sent photographs of the carcass to experts last week after noticing particular features on the deer which could suggest it had been killed by a large predator.
The injuries to the neck of the deer and the way the carcass had been consumed are thought to be highly indicative of big cat activity.
Dr Robin Allaby, Associate Professor at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick has visited the kill site to examine the evidence and take DNA samples from the wounds of the roe deer to be tested. Theses samples are now being tested with the results due by the end of the month.
Meetings planned to discuss future tree planting - Forestry Commission Scotland
A series of stakeholder meetings across Scotland are planned for February and March to get views on how to take forward woodland expansion. The meetings are being organised by the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group which has been set up to identify the types of land for future tree planting. The meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss and give feedback on some of the emerging conclusions being formulated by the Group. Over 100 responses were received by the Group after it requested views on how to tackle issues surrounding woodland expansion.
Top walking route now back in top shape - Lake District National Park
A favourite path for Lake District walkers has finally been repaired and restored to the way it was prior to 2009’s record-breaking floods washing away the route in a landslide.
The 30m landslide which created a large gap on the bridleway between Gatesgarth and Scarth Gap is now being used by walkers again allowing them to enjoy the fine views over Buttermere.
The historical route, which Lake District author and fell guide Alfred Wainwright described as “one of the pleasantest of foot passes”, is regularly used by walkers climbing Haystacks, one of Wainwright’s favourite peaks and his last resting place.
Since November 2009 walkers have had to struggle around the landslide as LDNPA staff worked out how to obtain the £70,000 required to fund the repairs. Following a successful bid to the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), specialist engineers were asked to design and build a solution.
Seabird death toll rises off Cornish Coast - RSPB and Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Conservationists are saddened and extremely concerned about the continued deaths of seabirds caught in nets in west Cornwall. On Saturday [7 January] an estimated 200 birds were found in a net to the north of St Ives and others washed up on local beaches. Last week the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (CIFCA) used a local bylaw to close part of the fishery due to birds being caught in nets nearby.
Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer in Cornwall said; “This is of great concern. At this time of the year birds such as guillemots and razorbills are frequently found near the coast feeding on sprats in the same areas used by local fishermen. Unfortunately conditions have conspired to bring them into greater proximity than normal with the result that large numbers of birds are being trapped in the nets and drowning.”
Cornwall Wildlife Trust picked up a number of dead birds from Porthmeor Beach over the weekend. These were examined by Vic Simpson, vet with the Cornwall based Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre and their deaths were found to entirely consistent with drowning whilst feeding on sprats.
Ruth Williams, Marine Conservation Manager at Cornwall Wildlife Trust said: “The birds that have been examined were healthy, had very recently been feeding, but had definitely died as a result of drowning in these nets.
Friday 13 January
It's a good newts story for a wandering amphibian - Natural
- Natural England
A lost amphibian that turned up in a Tyneside office building struck it lucky when it wandered into the offices of Natural England, the Government’s adviser on nature conservation.
Staff spotted the smooth newt crawling about in the Reception area of the organisation’s office at Newburn Riverside. The water-loving creature was in a bad way when it was found and in urgent need of rehydration. Natural England’s Dr Dave Mitchell - who knows his newts - quickly improvised an emergency newt pond to give the animal somewhere to recover from its ordeal.
Under the watchful eye of holiday-cover Receptionist, Daniel Moreno, the animal soon revived in its temporary home on the Reception Desk and after a few hours in newt A&E, Dave Mitchell was confident that the animal was sufficiently recovered to be returned to the wild. The newt was carefully released in suitable habitat at Newburn Riverside, where Natural England staff are confident that the animal will find a more appropriate home to hide up for the winter.
The study, led by RSPB and part funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, looked at what factors influence breeding Slavonian grebes to choose certain lochs to raise young.
It found that the moderately sized lochs with an abundance of small fish (sticklebacks and minnows) to feed on, clear water to hunt fish and plenty of nesting habitat were most suitable for the species.
It also revealed that lochs containing pike had fewer small fish, which are a valuable food source for grebes.
The Slavonian grebe only began breeding in the UK in 1908; its population today remains restricted to northern Scotland where latest counts have shown only 29 breeding pairs remain.
Conservationists hope a better understanding of species, particularly during the breeding season, could help determine what measures are needed to reverse the population decline.
Burnt forest rises from the ashes - BBC news report on
Froestry Commission work
- BBC news report on Froestry Commission work
The Forestry Commission has cleared away the charred trees left after the fire in May 2011.
Hundreds of people have volunteered to help replant more than 85 acres of woodland in Berkshire which were destroyed by a forest fire.
The blaze in Swinley Forest raged for three weeks in May 2011, damaging more than 100,000 trees, most of them pines.
The Forestry Commission has spent six months clearing the area ready for 60,000 new trees to be planted.
It says more fire retardant species like oaks, aspens and alders will be placed on the forest boundaries.
Volunteers - many of whom were evacuated from their homes as the flames ravaged the area - will create ponds to form natural barriers to try to reduce the risk of fires spreading.
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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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