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A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


The future’s bright for wildlife volunteering - Heritage Lottery Fund 

Cheshire Wildlife Trust to make £1.2million investment in volunteering thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

CWT staff and volunteers Credit: Tom MarshallIf you have ever wanted to help save and protect the wildlife right on your doorstep there has never been a better time as Cheshire Wildlife Trust announces its ground-breaking new volunteer programme, Natural Futures.

CWT staff and volunteers (image Credit: Tom Marshall)

 Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, over the next four years the trust is making a £1.2million investment in volunteering that will not only change the face of the trust, but will also shape the county’s wildlife and natural spaces for the better. Ambitious in scale, the project’s aim is actually very simple – let’s get more people doing more for nature in Cheshire.

Natural Futures will fund a dedicated project officer and two volunteer co-ordinators, who will give additional support and training to the trust’s existing volunteers, and will bring together new volunteers who can lend a hand on current work and future projects.

In return volunteers will benefit from learning new skills, being part of a vibrant network and improving their health and well-being. The project will also bring together local community conservation groups, providing them with skills and support to run effectively.

The project targets four main volunteer areas:

  • Local conservation groups
  • Young people (under-25s)
  • Volunteering for leisure
  • People in recovery from physical or mental illness.

Martin Varley, Director of Conservation, said: “Cheshire Wildlife Trust has been working in nature conservation for more than 50 years, but we can’t confront the challenges facing Cheshire on our own. The key to unlocking the solution to the present threat to nature in Cheshire is to mobilise more people who share our concern. Natural Futures will help to reach new audiences and build on our foundation to make a sustainable difference for nature.”


And more good news from the Wildlife Trusts

Heathland brought back to health - Dorset Wildlife Trust

An East Devon heathland is being nursed back to health thanks to the work of the Trust.

Clayhidon Turbary nature reserve sits in the heart of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its 34 acres are made up of heathland, marshy areas and wet woodland – a series of landscape types that were once common but which have disappeared from much of the English countryside in recent decades.

Clayhidon Turbary (Dorset Wildlife Trust)Clayhidon Turbary was once used by local people who grazed their cattle there and who also cut peat from the site to use as fuel to heat their homes. However, in recent years these uses have declined and the heathland has begun to lose its special character with scrub and young woodland colonising its once open areas. If this situation continued then the area’s special character and wildlife would soon have been lost.

In 2011 Devon Wildlife Trust took on the management of Clayhidon Turbury and made it a nature reserve. In the years since the charity has been using its experience gained at other nearby Blackdown Hills nature reserves to restore the site to former glories. The major breakthrough came when the charity recently gained £34,000 of funding for the nature reserve from Biffa Award - a multi-million pound fund which awards grants to community and environmental projects across the UK.

This has allowed restoration work to begin and the first results are beginning to show.  Devon Wildlife Trust has just completed the installation of a fence around the site. This fence isn’t designed to keep people out but it will keep ponies and cattle in. Ed Hopkinson, the Nature Reserve Officer for Clayhidon Turbary explains: ‘Without fencing we couldn’t introduce grazing animals to the reserve, and without grazing animals it was impossible to reverse the steady march of invasive young trees and scrub. Removing these by hand is time consuming and costly when ponies and cattle will do it 24 hours a day for no pay. So having cattle here is filling a massive missing piece in our management.’


Dunes restored at Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve - Cumbria Wildlife Trust

 Restoration work to improve unusual coastal wildlife at a nature reserve near Ravenglass has been completed.

Native wildlife at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve has been struggling to thrive because an invasive plant, sea buckthorn, has been taking over much of the nature reserve since the 1970s. The plant is not native to Cumbria’s coast and has stopped the natural movement of sand dunes and shaded out grassland. Wild flowers such as heart’s-ease pansy, bird’s-foot trefoil, wild thyme and pyramidal orchid will all benefit from the restoration work, which will in turn help unusual butterflies such as dark green fritillaries and meadow browns.Heart-ease pansy at Eskmeals Dunes(Cumbria Wildlife Trust)

Heart-ease pansy at Eskmeals Dunes (Cumbria Wildlife Trust)

Following the clearance work, cows are now able to graze the grassland all year round keeping the nature reserve in top shape for wildlife. The shorter grass that this will create will improve the nature reserve for natterjack toads, a very rare toad that is distinguished by the yellow stripe down its back and it’s loud ‘nattering’ during the breeding season.

Pete Jones, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Reserve Officer for Eskmeals Dunes says, “Natterjack toads are only found in coastal areas with sand dunes or marsh and so Eskmeals Dunes could be the perfect place for them. As well as restoring the grassland for the toads so they can run across the short grass, we’ve also dug two new ponds and restored two old ones. They prefer shallow, warm ponds which is partly why they are struggling to survive; our unpredictable weather can dry up these ponds quickly in a warm spring killing tadpoles. Our new ponds, along with the newly exposed sand dunes which they can burrow into, should give them the best chance of increasing their numbers.”


RSPB backs pheasant shooting - or does it?

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director wrote a blog on 15 March entitled Debunking some myths about the RSPB and shooting

He then gave an interview to The Observer, read it here: RSPB backs pheasant shoots and says they’re good for the countryside

Which then 'went viral' with lots of coverage see The Telegraph here (the least sensational of the nationals!)

Which prompted Martin to write a rebuttal here.

So make your own minds up!


Ten-year experiment identifies optimum upland farming system - The James Hutton Institute

A study carried out over a 10-year period by ecologists at the James Hutton Institute and the universities of Hull and Aberdeen has shown that grazing a mixture of sheep and cattle, at low intensity, is the best approach for maintaining biodiversity in the British uplands.

Upland Grazing (James Hutton Intitute)The British uplands are internationally important for their unique plant and bird communities. Species such as meadow pipits (a common upland songbird), field voles and red foxes live in a delicate balance that can easily be disrupted by changes in farming practices. Although it is known that livestock grazing has a significant impact on the variety of plants and animals that are found in grassland areas, the relationship is complicated, with different species affected in different ways.

Upland Grazing (James Hutton Intitute)

For the first time, ecologists have conducted a long-term, landscape-scale experiment looking at the consequences of livestock management on multiple plant and animal groups that consume each other within an upland ‘food-web’. The aim of the research, which took place at the Glen Finglas estate in central Scotland, was not to determine a single approach to livestock grazing that would result in a ‘win-win’ situation for all species, but rather an approach that provided the best possible trade-off between ‘winners’ and losers’.

The researchers established separate blocks of land that were each designed to mimic a range of livestock grazing scenarios. For ten years, between 2002 and 2012, measurements including plant diversity, insect abundance, meadow pipit territories and signs of vole and fox activity were recorded in each experimental plot. The study published today (30 March) in Ecosphere, concluded that grazing a mixture of sheep and cattle, at low intensity, was the best trade-off between benefiting the meadow pipits, and disadvantaging the voles and foxes; therefore maintaining the balance of biodiversity.

Professor Robin Pakeman, from the James Hutton Institute, said: “Our long-term experiment at the Woodland Trust’s Glen Finglas estate has clearly shown that decisions about grazing management affect plants, insects, voles, foxes and birds in different ways. Both increasing or decreasing the numbers of stock in the uplands will result in winners and losers. Our collaborative research can provide the basis for future decisions on supporting farming and biodiversity in our uplands.”

Grazing mixtures of sheep and cattle is key to maintaining upland biodiversity 

Gain access to the paper from here.


TCV offers ‘speed volunteering’ opportunity for busy Londoners  - The Conservation Volunteers

Image: Volunteers preparing a site at Benhill Road, Lambeth (TCV)Image: Volunteers preparing a site at Benhill Road, Lambeth (TCV)

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) have joined forces with the Mayor’s Team London to provide busy Londoners with ‘speed volunteering’ scheme, giving them the opportunity to give back to the community in a way that fits in with their busy lives, while encouraging them to try volunteering for the first time. According to an independent survey, 60% of potential volunteers are deterred from volunteering because they feel they do not have sufficient time due to work commitments. People also cited home and family responsibilities, caring for elderly relatives, or studying, as other reasons for not being able to get involved. This initiative will allow people to sign up for short, sharp bursts of activity, which fit around their demanding schedules, whilst making a real difference to their local communities. TCV opportunities will enable volunteers to improve local outdoor spaces whilst getting active and reaping benefits to their health in the process. The scheme is the latest development in the Mayor's Team London volunteering programme, which has seen almost 62,000 Londoners help out across the capital in the last two years.


Saving our peat bogs with slime, beads, hummocks and plug-plants – Moors for the Future Partnership   

Walkers on Kinder Scout should not be alarmed to see spaceman-like figures spraying green slime all over areas of Peak District moor.

They are part of a team of conservationists conducting scientific trials on the best way to re-introduce sphagnum moss onto peat moors devastated by environmental changes over the past 150 years.

The reintroduction of sphagnum moss is key to rebuilding blanket bogs by preventing erosion and helping to:

• improve our drinking water quality
• reduce flood risk
• restrict wildfires
• mitigate climate change by storing carbon dioxide
• regenerate wildlife habitats

The Moors for the Future Partnership is working with the Environment Agency and National Trust, as part of the Peatland Restoration Project, to pioneer these globally important trials on an 80-hectare site on Kinder Scout, the highest plateau in the Peak District National Park.

Damaged peat bogs have been termed “a climate time bomb”, as climate change is likely to increase the rate at which they break down.

Without their protective sphagnum based vegetation, lost during 150 years of atmospheric pollution and wildfires, bogs release more carbon into the atmosphere instead of storing it, send sediment downstream into our reservoirs, don’t hold back downpours that can flood our towns and countryside and increase the likelihood of more wildfires, accelerating the whole process.


Scottish puffins found with plastic pellets in their stomachs – Fauna & Flora International

Image: Puffin on the Isle of May. © Steve Garvie.

Image: Puffin on the Isle of May. © Steve Garvie

They may be known as the clowns of the sea, but new evidence that puffins are mistaking plastic pellets for food is no laughing matter.

Autopsies of dead puffins collected from the Isle of May in Scotland have revealed that, along with their usual diet of sand eels, these charismatic seabirds have been eating plastic pellets, known as nurdles.

As Mark Newell from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (where the autopsies were performed) explained, “We regularly collect puffins found dead on the island to help us monitor the health of the population. As part of this research we look at what they have been eating. At first we didn’t know what the strange pieces of plastic were, but we found them in a number of the puffins’ stomachs. When The Great Nurdle Hunt contacted us asking if we had found any small plastic pellets in the seabirds we were studying, I realised they were nurdles.”


Government slow to react to protect Strangford Lough’s horse mussels – Ulster Wildlife Trust

Government slow to react to protect Strangford Lough’s horse mussels (© Mike Hartwell)A report published today (31/3) by the NI Audit Office states that the Department of the Environment (DoE) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) were slow to react to address the decline of the unique horse mussel reefs in Strangford Lough.

Government slow to react to protect Strangford Lough’s horse mussels (© Mike Hartwell)

The Lough’s horse mussel reefs provide vital homes, spawning grounds and nurseries for hundreds of creatures, including commercially fished species.

Comptroller and Auditor General, Kieran Donnelly said: “The departments were slow to react to the deteriorating condition of Strangford Lough’s Modiolus biogenic reefs. Complaints to the European Commission represent a significant risk to the public finances. There is no scope for failure in implementing the Revised Restoration Plan with the agreed timeframe if the Northern Ireland Executive is to avoid significant financial penalties.”

Jennifer Fulton, Chief Executive with Ulster Wildlife added: “Protection for Strangford Lough is long overdue. Given the Lough’s numerous legal protections and international designations, this report highlights the need to value and protect our natural assets, for once damaged, they are difficult and costly to restore. Whilst we are encouraged to see that DARD and DOE are now taking their responsibilities seriously, making progress on implementing the revised restoration plan, we hope the actions needed to protect and restore this unique underwater habitat do not fall behind, given the huge funding cut backs to both Departments and the environment sector as a whole.”

Read the report here


New female osprey appears at Lowes - Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Trust can confirm the arrival of a new female osprey at its Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve, near Dunkeld.

Wildlife enthusiasts from around the world have been patiently waiting to see if the female osprey, affectionately known by many as ‘Lady’, will return for what would have been her 25th year at the site. However, late yesterday afternoon a young female osprey appeared in the nest at Loch of the Lowes. She then began pair-bonding with the resident male osprey and has since mated with him multiple times.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust Perthshire Ranger, Charlotte Fleming, said: “Everyone at the Scottish Wildlife Trust Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve is so excited by the arrival of this new female. Many people have been asking if this means that our famous osprey – affectionately known by many as ‘Lady’ – will not return this year, but we simply do not know. There is still a possibility that she will return - and dramatic scenes could unfold if ‘Lady’ were to begin to compete for her nest and her mate." 


Zoologists Tap into GPS to Track Badger Movements - Trinity College Dublin 

Zoologists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences are using GPS tracking technology to keep a ‘Big Brother’ eye on badgers in County Wicklow. By better understanding the badgers’ movements and the reasons behind them, the zoologists hope to devise a highly effective TB vaccination programme.

One barrier is the lack of knowledge as to how TB is actually transmitted. This is something the Trinity zoologists are tackling with their GPS approach – by compiling detailed information on how often badgers enter farmyards, to what extent they avoid fields when cattle are grazing in them, and how far they roam each night, the team hopes to assess how quickly the disease might be able to spread.

PhD Researcher in Zoology, Aoibheann Gaughran, said: “All of this information should help us to work out the best way to get a vaccine against TB into all the badgers in each social group. We’ve put collars carrying satellite tracking devices on more than 40 badgers, which automatically send us a text, pinpointing their location at least four times during the night. The study has been running for four years now and we have built up one of the largest data sets of badger movements ever collected.”

The zoologists have teamed up with researchers from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in this project.

Associate Professor in Zoology at Trinity, Dr Nicola Marples has written an Expert Comment to supplement this news. This can be viewed here.

Their efforts were showcased on RTÉ One’s ‘Living The Wildlife’ at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, March 31.


Over three quarters of important wildlife site to be lost in Erith - London Wildlife Trust

One of Bexley's most important wildlife sites will be cut to a quarter of its size following a unanimous decision by Bexley Council’s planning committee to allow the development of 600 new homes and a school on the former Erith Quarry site.

Yesterday’s decision means that the site, which has been designated as a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) for over 20 years, will lose approximately 18 hectares of important wildlife habitats. This is roughly equivalent to an area the size of Green Park and will leave just over three hectares of habitat in one corner of the site and in a narrow strip surrounding the new development.

Despite strong objections from London Wildlife Trust and Bexley Natural Environment Forum and some concerns from a few councillors on the impacts the development will have on wildlife, only minimum conditions and mitigation for the loss will be implemented.

While London Wildlife Trust welcomes a condition to ensure that the remaining habitat will be maintained and managed as a wildlife area (with five years of monitoring), this will do little to offset the wildlife losses that will occur.

Tony Wileman, Conservation Ecologist with London Wildlife Trust, who presented the Trust’s views at the Committee, commented: “We recognise the conflicting requirements for the site and the need for housing in the Borough of Bexley but are hugely disappointed at the scale of this loss. This is a designated wildlife site and the decision seems to fly in the face of the council’s own policy targets for nature conservation, and sets a worrying precedent for other wildlife sites in London.“


Critically Endangered Butterfly Hits 10- Year High - Butterfly Conservation

One of the UK’s rarest butterflies has recorded its best year for a decade thanks to 2014’s warm spring weather and work to restore its habitat, a study has revealed.

High brown fritillary, (image: Butterfly Conservation)Last year the critically endangered High Brown Fritillary experienced its best season since 2004 with numbers increasing by more than 180% compared to 2013, the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) led by Butterfly Conservation (BC) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) found.

High brown fritillary, (image: Butterfly Conservation)

The striking orange and black butterfly once bred in most large woods in England and Wales but habitat loss has resulted in alarming declines raising fears that it could be heading toward extinction in the UK.

The High Brown Fritillary, one of only two critically endangered butterflies in the UK, is now restricted to a handful of colonies in North West and South West England and one in Wales.  The butterfly benefitted from warm spring weather and work by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation and partners targeted at restoring its habitat. 
Elsewhere, the warmer than average spring and early summer saw many butterflies thrive with the Marbled White, Ringlet and Brimstone all experiencing their best years since the UKBMS began in 1976.  Orange-tip and Speckled Wood had their fourth best years on record and the threatened Duke of Burgundy rallied with a 26% increase in numbers compared to 2013.  The UK’s skipper butterflies fared well especially those that peak in abundance during early to mid-summer, with all seven species studied showing an annual increase.  The Large Skipper was up 86% compared to 2013 and the rare Lulworth Skipper saw numbers climb by 15%. More than half of the 56 species studied saw their numbers rise compared to 2013.
The warm start to the summer gave way to colder conditions later in the year which resulted in the butterfly season peaking slightly earlier in July rather than August which was colder and wetter than average.

Last year’s losers included the ‘cabbage white’ butterflies with the Small White down 66% compared to 2013 and the Large White declining 69% for the same recording period.  Some butterflies associated with high summer also struggled in the cold August weather with the Chalk Hill Blue numbers down 55% compared to 2013 and Adonis Blue down 43%.

Dr Tom Brereton, Head of Monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said: “The High Brown Fritillary is one of only two butterflies classed as critically endangered in the UK so it is fantastic news that numbers are at their highest level for more than a decade.  A huge amount of work co-ordinated by Butterfly Conservation has been put into conserving this butterfly in recent years, especially though wildlife-friendly farming schemes, so the results will come as a welcome boost to all involved. There is a long way to go before the long-term decline has been reversed, with ongoing targeted conservation efforts crucial in this.”


Birds flock to farmland this winter in a million acre count - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

An army of farmers, gamekeepers and land managers looking after nearly one million acres of farmland turned out in their droves this winter to count their birds in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s second Big Farmland Bird Count, which ran between 7 – 15th February.

Spending just half-an-hour during the week-long count nearly one thousand people, representing every county in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, swapped their tractors for binoculars to see how their conservation efforts are boosting the recovery of farmland birds.

Pictured: redwing, a red-list species spotting by farmers during the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count. (Photo credit – Peter Thompson). A total of 19 red list species of conservation concern were also recorded with six appearing in the list of 25 most commonly seen species listPictured: redwing, a red-list species spotting by farmers during the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count. (Photo credit – Peter Thompson). A total of 19 red list species of conservation concern were also recorded with six appearing in the list of 25 most commonly seen species list

Jim Egan, from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Allerton Project, who originated the idea, said, “We are delighted to have received so much industry support, which is reflected in the results of this second count. Double the number of farmers turned out this winter and between them they recorded more than 127 different species on their farms. This was a remarkable achievement, particularly as they monitored an additional 11 species compared to 2014.”

The five most common birds seen on farms this winter were blackbird, seen by nearly 90 per cent of farmers, followed by robin (80 per cent), blue tit (79 per cent), chaffinch (75 per cent) and carrion crow seen by over 70 per cent of the farmers taking part.

A total of 19 red list species of conservation concern were also recorded with six appearing in the list of 25 most commonly seen species list. Starlings and fieldfare were seen on over 40 per cent of the farms taking part and were the most abundant red-listed species recorded followed by linnet, yellowhammer, house sparrow, lapwing and redwing.

Compared with last year, 10 additional species of birds were added to the list of birds recorded including cirl bunting and Cettie’s warbler. In addition 13 species of raptor were counted with goshawk included in the results for the first time this year

Jim Egan explains the results, “Even though this is only its second year, we are seeing an increase in the number of birds and the range of species seen – especially red-listed species. These are some of our most rapidly declining birds but they are still out there and are being supported by our farmers through the many conservation measures that are now being implemented on UK farmland.”

Full results and analysis are accessible online here.


Trust encourages Scottish Government to back beaver reintroduction as a step towards a richer, wilder Scotland  - John Muir Trust

With the Scottish Environment Minister set to announce later this year the government’s response to the five-year beaver trial at Knapdale, the John Muir Trust has given its backing to the reintroduction of the keystone species.
The Trust is urging the Scottish Government to welcome the return of the Eurasian beaver as a native species and allow further reintroductions across Scotland. At the same time, the Trust has launched a new policy statement declaring its support for the principle of rewilding.
“We would like to see large parts of Britain set aside for what has become known as ‘rewilding’ – which means repairing damaged ecosystems, restoring natural processes and reintroducing lost species, including the beaver to create a richer, wilder environment,” said Trust Chief Executive Stuart Brooks.
The Trust believes that such a visionary approach would benefit not just nature, but also people and communities, especially in remote areas. Rewilding pockets of our towns and cities could also play a role in bringing nature into more of our lives.
“The Trust has taken a rewilding approach to the management of its properties for 30 years, long before the term was coined,” said Stuart Brooks. “Rewilding is about intervening to repair damage and restart natural processes – for example, by managing deer to allow native woodlands to regenerate; or by re-introducing missing species, such as beavers, that perform key functions in our ecosystems. That in turn will ultimately allow nature to take its own course and be more resilient in the face of climate change.  It is not about excluding people, imposing unwanted policies on rural communities or damaging people's livelihoods. We recognise that rewilding is not suitable everywhere, for example, in areas of high agricultural value.  But for other areas it can provide the step-change we need to bring back the full diversity of our natural heritage. Much of our land is impoverished – for humans and wildlife – and we believe that returning nature in these areas to its former glory would benefit everyone.
On species reintroduction, the Trust believes that the successful Scottish Beaver trial should be followed up with further licensed introductions of the animals across Scotland and other parts of the UK. In time, and with public consultation and support, the Trust hopes to see credible proposals brought forward in the future for trial reintroductions of carnivores, starting with the lynx.

Read the new John Muir Trust policy statement: 'Rewilding: Restoring Ecosystems for Nature and People'


This Easter the Royal Horticultural Society is calling on gardeners to get Greening Grey Britain - RHS

Hard surfaces in London gardens alone increase by two and a half times the area of Hyde Park every year and seven million front gardens across the UK contain concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass. Britain is paving over its gardens, which is reducing biodiversity, decreasing homes and food for wildlife, increasing flood risks and harming the UK’s health, happiness and wellbeing.

Making a stand against the insidious, depressing concrete sprawl, this Easter the RHS is calling for people all over the country - individuals, community groups, schools, councils, businesses – to get ‘Greening Grey Britain’ and turn unloved and unspectacular parts of their neighbourhood into something beautiful and to make their gardens even greener.

A survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by the RHS, found that 92% said being in a garden helped them to relax and de-stress; 95% said being in a beautiful garden lifted their moods and over 60% said that looking at a street of paved over front gardens saddens them.

Alistair Griffiths, RHS Director of Science and Collections, said: “Many of us get a boost by simply looking at a beautiful garden or having access to green space. So instead of paving over green we can all play a part in reducing the grey and brightening it, and us, up with some plants. On top of making us feel better and happier, if hundreds and thousands of people across the country grew more plants of different varieties in gardens and community spaces, it would all help to improve our air quality, benefit us, our wildlife and reduce temperatures and flooding risks. Greening Grey Britain can be as big or small as anyone likes, the critical point is that collectively we can all make a positive difference one plant at a time.”


New Sea Eagle Management Scheme launched for 2015 - Scottish Natural Heritage

A new scheme has been introduced this year to continue support for livestock farmers and crofters experiencing impacts across the sea eagle breeding range.

The sea eagle management scheme will be managed by local stakeholder groups set up across the sea eagle range and administered, on their behalf, by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The stakeholder groups are represented on a national scheme panel with members from SNH, National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) and Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF). Initially, stakeholder groups have been set up in Argyll & Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh, and Wester Ross. Other groups may be established where the demand arises.

The scheme will operate from 2015 to 2018 and will investigate all issues involving sea eagle impacts on livestock. It will also trial prevention measures where required and practical. Support is available through experienced contractors, loan of equipment, and payments to land managers who undertake prevention measures as part of their livestock management.

Ross Lilley, SNH sea eagle scheme manager, says: “We’d like to ask all farmers and crofters who experience issues with sea eagles and livestock to contact their local SNH office. The staff at the local SNH office will arrange for someone to respond and investigate on behalf of the local stakeholder group.”


And finally for this week:

Have you seen the Easter Bunny? - Mammal Society

Seriously – The Mammal Society appeals for sightings of rabbits and hares

Can you tell your Mad March Hare from your Easter Bunny?  Now Spring has arrived, The Mammal Society is appealing for the public to let them know when they see a wild rabbit or hare. 

Dr Fiona Mathews, the new chair of The Mammal Society, says: “Mammals can be rare, nocturnal, shy, and difficult to see.  Rabbits and hares, on the other hand, are easy to spot, particularly in spring when vegetation is low.  People tend to assume that because they see them, these animals must be everywhere.  In fact, some areas have very low populations, particularly where there have been disease outbreaks, whereas in other areas they can be significant agricultural pests.  There is some evidence that hares may not be as numerous as they once were, so we need to find out whether they are suffering the same declines as many other farmland species.”

Rabbits and hares may be cute and fluffy, but they also have important roles in the ecosystem, affecting other species ranging from foxes to butterflies.  The Mammal society is therefore appealing for people across the country to let us know if they’ve seen wild rabbits or hares, whether it be in a London park, a Norfolk field, or on a Scottish mountain.

Dr Mathews explains “The Mammal Society wants records of rare and common mammals as we are producing the first National Mammal Atlas in over 20 years. This will provide vital baseline data on mammal distribution, which will support future conservation and research projects."

Record your sightings on the National Mammal Atlas map here.

For other sightings and surveys please see our surveys page.


Scientific Publications 

Persson, Jens, Rauset, Geir Rune & Chapron, Guillaume.  Paying for an Endangered Predator Leads to Population Recovery.  Conservation Letters.  DOI: 10.1111/conl.12171

Although this study is of the wolverine in Sweden the results will be of interest to people following the discussions over re-introduction of lynx to Britain. 


Urbanek, Rachael E., AU  - Nielsen, Clayton K., AU  - Davenport, Mae A. &  Woodson, Brad D. Perceived and desired outcomes of suburban deer management methods. The Journal of Wildlife Management. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.871


Dantec, Cécile Françoise, Ducasse, Hugo,  Capdevielle, Xavier, Fabreguettes, Olivier, Delzon, Sylvain & Desprez-Loustau, Marie-Laure.  Escape of spring frost and disease through phenological variations in oak populations along elevation gradients. Journal of Ecology.  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12403


Deepa Senapathi, Luísa G. Carvalheiro, Jacobus C. Biesmeijer, Cassie-Ann Dodson, Rebecca L. Evans, Megan McKerchar, R. Daniel Morton, Ellen D. Moss, Stuart P. M. Roberts, William E. Kunin, Simon G. Potts. The impact of over 80 years of land cover changes on bee and wasp pollinator communities in England. Proc. R. Soc. B: 2015 282 20150294; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0294.


Grodsky, S. M., Iglay, R. B., Sorenson, C. E. and Moorman, C. E. (2015), Should invertebrates receive greater inclusion in wildlife research journals?. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.875


Keith, David A. et al  The IUCN red list of ecosystems: Motivations, challenges and application.  Conservation Letters.  DOI: 10.1111/conl.12167


Piotr Tryjanowski, Federico Morelli, Presence of Cuckoo reliably indicates high bird diversity: A case study in a farmland area, Ecological Indicators, Volume 55, August 2015, Pages 52-58, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.03.012.


Lídia Sanches Bertolo, Rozely Ferreira dos Santos, Pilar Martín de Agar, Carlos Tomás Lópes de Pablo, Land-use changes assessed by overlay or mosaic methods: Which method is best for management planning?, Ecological Indicators, Volume 55, August 2015, Pages 32-43, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.03.004.


O. Dondina, V. Orioli, D. Massimino, G. Pinoli, L. Bani, A method to evaluate the combined effect of tree species composition and woodland structure on indicator birds, Ecological Indicators, Volume 55, August 2015, Pages 44-51, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.03.007.


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