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


News from over the Christmas Break

London's Garden Bridge falls short for wildlife - RSPB

There’s been a great kerfuffle in London as 2014 drew to a close over an actresses’ vision, a celebrity gardener’s know-how and an award-winning architect’s design.Garden Bridge (Image: Thomas Heatherwick/Arup Depiction via RSPB)

Garden Bridge (Image: Thomas Heatherwick/Arup Depiction via RSPB)

The much debated Garden Bridge has now been approved by the relevant local authorities with little across its path to prevent the artwork becoming reality.  Actress Joanna Lumley is the bridge’s chief flag carrier, and landscape designer Dan Pearson is adding his green-fingered expertise to Thomas Heatherwick’s design; yes, he of the Olympic Cauldron and Boris Bus fame.

From a conservation point of view, the bridge adds little and damages little, so the RSPB had cautiously supported the initial concept.  You can do a lot in a small space, so the RSPB is hoping the design will incorporate bat and bird nesting sites alongside suitable habitats for pollinators and other bugs. Water capture and storage as part of a wider drainage initiative would have been a bonus. Better still, it could link existing wildlife spots north and south of the river, but that’s not currently part of the plans. Londoners will not be gaining a new, wildlife rich habitat and consequently, the bridge will not gain RSPB backing.

The Garden Bridge will cost an estimated £175 million. It will provide a pedestrian-only link from Temple on the north bank with the area close to the OXO building on the south. The promoters have hinted that there may be a ticketing scheme imposed to manage the crowds, so they warn potential users to expect queues. Picnics will not be allowed and groups limited to no more than eight people at a time.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has promised to use £30 million of Londoners’ money to match fund £30 million from the UK Government. That leaves £115 million to secure, but this may be offset by fundraising events on the bridge. Twelve days a year have reportedly been set aside for this use. 


New sea creature discovery: ‘fairy’ found on north Devon coast - Devon Wildlife Trust

The new sea anemone (copyright Rob Durrant)A new variety of sea anemone has been found off the coast of north Devon. Just 6mm tall, the tiny animal was spotted by retired teacher Robert Durrant in Hele Bay, near Ilfracombe

copyright Rob Durrant, via Devon Wildlife Trust

But it took an international exchange of emails and photos before the anemone was identified as a new variety.  As it lacks a common name, Robert has proposed calling the small, pretty creature the ‘fairy anemone’.

As a volunteer marine recorder for Coastwise North Devon, Robert wasn’t particularly looking to find a new species.  He takes up the story: “It was found by accident at Hele Bay really – I took a photo and posted it on Facebook and experts hadn’t a clue.  So I decided to take a specimen for my aquarium at home to feed the anemone to see how it would develop – and get some more photos to try to identify it.”

Since this record, further anemones have been found at Newlyn in Cornwall which are individuals of the ‘Hele Bay’ variety, rather than the previously familiar ‘Portland Harbour’ variety.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Dan Smith commented:  “It’s amazing that new animal discoveries can still be made right on our shores.  The north Devon coast is particularly rich in marine habitats and species, which is why local people nominated the area from Bideford to Foreland Point as a Marine Conservation Zone.  Government missed this site off the list in the first designations of MCZs in 2013, but we have a chance to secure protection for this stunning section of coast in the new year. 


Greener transport network to provide highways for wildlife - Natural England, defra & the Highways Agency

Roads and railways will become better-suited to wildlife and withstanding climate change under a project by Natural England and partners.Flowery bank © Natural England, Peter Wakely  

 The areas of vegetation growing alongside the transport network, known as “green corridors”, are to be enhanced as part of a £3 million pilot project drawing together Natural England, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and Nature Improvement Area (NIA) partnerships. It will ensure that these green corridors can accommodate more wildlife – especially pollinators – and enable greater movement between sites.

Flowery bank © Natural England, Peter Wakely

For the first time, this type of conservation work will not only focus on improving conditions for plants, animals and insects, it will also benefit transport users and the wider public by making infrastructure more resilient to the growing impacts of climate change, such as increased flooding and winter storms. In addition, it will help to tackle the perennial problem of “leaves on the line” and, in the right areas, open up views for rail passengers and motorists.

The pilot is a product of the government’s Natural Environment White Paper in 2011 which pledged to bring together transport and conservation partners in the “creation of coherent and resilient ecological networks”.

It will focus on the NIAs in Morecambe Bay, between Cumbria and Lancashire, and the Humberhead Levels, straddling Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. If the 3-year pilot is successful it could usher in a similar approach across the country. The rail network has 32,000 km (20,000 miles) of green corridors, also known as the “soft estate”, while the Highways Agency has 30,000 hectares of land in addition to the extensive road infrastructure managed by local authorities. Other linear infrastructure such as canals, cycleways and power lines could also benefit.

The project is based on the findings of a literature review, carried out by ADAS UK Ltd, looking at research into transport green corridors across the UK and Europe. These were used to map out the locations best suited to conservation management and improving resilience in the 2 pilot areas.

The aims of the pilot are:

  • to establish species-rich grass verges and selective coppicing to promote the growth of plant and pollinator species such as bees, supporting the government’s National Pollinator Strategy (this could also reduce hazards associated with tree and leaf fall)
  • to create a greater variety of habitats on transport’s soft estate to encourage more wildlife to live in and travel along the corridors
  • to tailor the design of roadside habitats to reduce the risk of accidents caused by wildlife emerging unseen directly onto the carriageway
  • to create wetland swales and ponds on land in or near the soft estate which can store carbon dioxide emissions, provide wildlife habitat and improve the quality and drainage of water, reducing the likelihood of flooding on the transport network


Rare beetles discovered in Scotland for first time in decades - RSPB Scotland

Abernethy nature reserve (Image: Andy Hay, RSPB)Two rare beetles have been discovered in Scotland for the first time in decades at RSPB Scotland’s Abernethy nature reserve near Aviemore in the Highlands and near Aberdeen at RSPB Scotland’s Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve.

The beetle found at Abernethy was a water scavenger beetle called Cryptopleurum subtile, which was collected and identified during a survey of woody debris along the River Nethy.  This appears to be the most northern ever record of this species in Scotland, and is only the second record for the country, with the first being from a cut grass pile in Melrose in 1969.

Abernethy nature reserve (Image: Andy Hay, RSPB)

The second beetle, found at Loch of Strathbeg, was a whirligig called Gyrinus paykulli which occurs mainly in lochs and spends a lot of time in reeds and other plants on the edges of the water.   Again, this appears to be the most northern record of this particular beetle in Scotland with previous discoveries being made in Fife and Perthshire, with the most recent noted in 1999.

Both beetles were unearthed by Genevieve Dalley, Trainee Ecologist at RSPB Scotland. She said: “These beetles may not have been noticed very often in Scotland before as they are part of an under-recorded group of animals and, superficially, look very similar to other species. However, when you get a closer look and start learning about their lifestyle they are unique and brilliant creatures. These discoveries really show the importance of habitats which are sometimes undervalued, such as woody dams in rivers. There are less than 20 records of Cryptopleurum subtile in the UK and it is a species very little at all is known about, so information like this is crucial to building a picture of their needs on reserves and pinpointing important habitats to safeguard.” 


Cinderella wildlife refuges at risk: New report shows the vulnerable status of England’s Local Wildlife Sites - London Wildlife Trust 

Frays Farm Meadows, a London Wildlife Trust Local Nature ReserveHidden havens which support rare and threatened wildlife are being lost and damaged to development and neglect every year. New survey results published today provide insight into the secret places where nature thrives – known as Local Wildlife Sites – and highlight some worrying trends.

Frays Farm Meadows, a London Wildlife Trust Local Nature Reserve

Local Wildlife Sites are often little known, sometimes hidden yet vitally important wild havens - identified and selected locally for their high nature conservation value. They range from ancient woodlands to vibrant meadows abundant with butterflies, quiet churchyards home to bees and birds, bustling flower-rich roadsides and field-bordering hedgerows. 

The Wildlife Trusts’ new report, Secret Spaces: The status of England’s Local Wildlife Sites, draws on new evidence gathered this year which suggests that more than 10% of the 6,590 Local Wildlife Sites monitored have been lost or damaged in the last five years.  As if these losses were not bad enough, this evidence does not highlight the enormous and depressingly extensive history of loss over recent decades.  With predicted growth in housing, new roads and other infrastructure all set to increase, changes to farm environment schemes reducing incentives for owners to gain support for Local Wildlife Site management and austerity measures, which threaten the management of publically-owned Local Wildlife Sites, these last important refuges for wildlife remain vulnerable.

In London, the Local Wildlife Sites – known as the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), of which over 1,500 are identified - have benefited from a reasonably robust level of protection since the system was developed over the 1980s and ‘90s.

However, London Wildlife Trust is particularly concerned that the incredible pressures for development in London will make them ever more vulnerable to damage and loss, and without their designation being more visible in the public eye planners and developers may seek to downgrade or remove levels of protection. The Trust is due to publish a report promoting the value of London’s SINCs in March 2015.


Trust Chief Executive calls for lynx reintroduction - Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Scottish Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive, Jonny Hughes, has called for the reintroduction of the once native Eurasian lynx to Scotland.

The Trust believes there is both a moral and ecological case for reintroduction of species that have been made extinct in Scotland due to habitat loss and persecution. Reintroducing top-level predators such as the lynx would help restore the balance in Scotland’s natural ecosystems, which continue to decline in the face of widespread threats, such as overgrazing and inappropriate development.

Jonny Hughes said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust has experience in bringing keystone species back to Scotland, having been a lead partner in the groundbreaking Scottish Beaver Trial, a trial reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver to Argyll. This was the first ever licensed reintroduction of a mammal species to the UK.

“The five-year scientific monitoring period of the Scottish Beaver Trial has now come to an end and we await a ministerial decision on the future of beavers in Scotland. We believe that lynx should also be considered for reintroduction and in many ways could be a flagship for the restoration of native habitats, particularly woodlands into the future., Although reintroductions of this nature are complex and must follow strict international guidelines, Scotland is leading the way with its new Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations launched by the Scottish Government in 2014, through the work of the Scottish National Species Reintroduction Forum of which the Trust is a key member. Finding the right locations will be one of the major challenges for a potential lynx project and there will be a range of stakeholders who will need to work in partnership to ensure the best chance of success and support, as has been the case in the Scottish Beaver Trial. It is important that we all understand the potential benefits of bringing back the lynx to our woodland ecosystems, but also to our forestry and tourism industries. At the same time we should understand the challenges that this beautiful once native cat will bring with it.”

The Trust’s policy on reintroductions can be accessed here.

The Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations can be accessed here.

To read IUCN guidelines on reintroductions, please click here.


Europe is wilder than we think - IUCN

A new study published in Science finds that large carnivores such as wolves, brown bears, Eurasian lynx and wolverines have made a comeback in one-third of mainland Europe’s surface area, often sharing landscapes with humans. This development is widely hailed as a major conservation success.

The article, written by 76 large carnivore experts from 26 countries, summarized the status of these four large carnivore species across the European continent and the results are remarkably positive. Coordinated by the IUCN’s Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE), the study finds that in one-third of mainland Europe at least one species of large carnivore is present. This is an excellent example of how humans and carnivores can share the same landscape.

The study finds that there are currently 17,000 bears, 12,000 wolves, 9,000 lynx and around 1,250 wolverines. Remarkably, all of the recovered species in Europe occur in areas with high human densities, in landscapes that are highly modified, intensively exploited and fragmented by infrastructure. This is in stark contrast to many other parts of the world, where large carnivores are restricted to national parks and wilderness areas.
"The recovery of large carnivores in Europe is a success story that builds on good legislation, political stability, strong institutions and a favorable public opinion," said Guillaume Chapron, lead author of the study and member of the LCIE. "This is an example of species that have benefited from EU legislation, and it shows that the EU Habitats Directive works."

In June 2014, the European Commission launched the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores to facilitate constructive dialogue among key stakeholders including farmers, conservationists, landowners and hunters, and to find commonly agreed solutions to conflicts arising from people living and working in close proximity to these large animals. IUCN is one of the stakeholders represented on the Platform. 

Read the paper: Chapron m.fl: Recovery of large carnivores in Europe’s modern human-dominated landscapes, Science, 19 December 2014, DOI: 10.1126/Science.1256620


Scientific Papers

Orros, Melanie E. & Fellowes, Mark D. E. Widespread supplementary feeding in domestic gardens explains the return of reintroduced Red Kites Milvus milvus to an urban area.  Ibis DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12237


Saeed Hadian, Kaveh Madani, A system of systems approach to energy sustainability assessment: Are all renewables really green?, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 194-206, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.11.029. 


Furnas, Brett J. & Callas, Richard L.  Using automated recorders and occupancy models to monitor common forest birds across a large geographic region. The Journal of Wildlife Management. DOI:  



Marie Vanacker, Alexander Wezel, Vincent Payet & Joël Robin, Determining tipping points in aquatic ecosystems: The case of biodiversity and chlorophyll α relations in fish pond systems, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 184-193, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.12.011.


Filippo Bussotti & Martina Pollastrini, Evaluation of leaf features in forest trees: Methods, techniques, obtainable information and limits, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 219-230, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.12.010. 


Morrison, Catriona, Baillie, Stephen R., Clark, Acquie A., Johnston, Alison Leech, David I. & Robinson, Robert A.  Flexibility in the timing of post-breeding moult in passerines in the UK.  Ibis  DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12234 


Leather, Simon R. Onwards and upwards – aphid flight trends follow climate change. Journal of Animal Ecology.  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12314 


Bárbara Ondiviela, María Recio, & José A. Juanes, A management approach for the ecological integrity of NE Atlantic estuaries, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 105-115, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.12.003.


Jackson, Emma L., Rees, Siân E., Wilding, Catherine & Attrill, Martin J.  Use of a seagrass residency index to apportion commercial fishery landing values and recreation fisheries expenditure to seagrass habitat service Conservation Biology  DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12436 


Jan Rücknagel, Bodo Hofmann, Peter Deumelandt, Frank Reinicke, Jana Bauhardt, Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen, Olaf Christen, Indicator based assessment of the soil compaction risk at arable sites using the model REPRO, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 341-352, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI:10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.12.022.


Soykan, Candan U., Lewison, Rebecca L., Using community-level metrics to monitor the effects of marine protected areas on biodiversity. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12445


Ilse R. Geijzendorffer, Berta Martín-López, Philip K. Roche, Improving the identification of mismatches in ecosystem services assessments, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 320-331, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.12.016.


Anastasija Zaiko, Darius Daunys, Invasive ecosystem engineers and biotic indices: Giving a wrong impression of water quality improvement?, Ecological Indicators, Volume 52, May 2015, Pages 292-299, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.12.023.


Cardador, Laura, et al Conservation traps and long-term species persistence in human-dominated systems. Conservation Letters.  DOI: 10.1111/conl.12160

News this week

A new joint initiative urging voluntary restraint on large scale culls of mountain hares launched - Scottish Natural Heritage

Mountain hare (photo credit Lorne Gill, SNH)The move by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) should, along with several other measures, help ensure that future management is sustainable.

Ron Macdonald, SNH’s director of policy and advice, said: “We are asking estates for restraint on large-scale culls of mountain hares which could jeopardise the conservation status of mountain hares.  We recognise that some culling is occasionally needed to ensure healthy grouse stocks, but do not support large-scale culls and we will work with estates to put in place effective but sustainable management of mountain hares.”

Mountain hare (photo credit Lorne Gill, SNH)

Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: "Culling is legal and is necessary in some circumstances, such as to protect young trees or to support management for red grouse and we support that. We believe such management should be done sustainably and be supported by a sound management plan as part of an overall management approach. We want to ensure that the strong positive relationship between mountain hares and management for red grouse continues. Moorland managers should carefully assess the need for and impact of their actions on their own and neighbouring hare populations, and regularly reassess this management. A contributory part of refining this adaptive approach to management is finding practical ways to assess hare abundance with greater accuracy.”

SNH has also joined forces with the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) to begin a three-year joint study to trial several methods of assessing mountain hare population densities to determine the number of hares in a particular area.

The project will develop a reliable and cost-effective field method that can be used to form the basis of a longer-term monitoring programme for the first time. This will lead to a better understanding of how hare populations are faring at both local and national scales, and to better-informed decisions about their sustainable management.

The new project will trial various methods to identify the most suitable way of counting hares – with the objective of making reliable estimates of population density. One of the aims of the study is to develop a method which doesn’t rely solely on scientists but uses methods that could be collected by people working in the uplands.

Also read: SNH-GWCT-SL&E position on large-scale culls of mountain hares to reduce louping ill


Two thirds of parents have outdoor play concerns - New Forest National Park

Almost two thirds of parents based in and around the New Forest have concerns about letting their children play outdoors, a survey suggests.

Parents cited safety concerns, especially ‘stranger danger’, as the main reason for not allowing their children to play outdoors without adult supervision, despite 85 per cent of respondents saying that it is ‘very important’ to them that their children play outside.

Family playing in New Forest (image: New Forest National Park)Family playing in New Forest (image: New Forest National Park)

Now a wild play project, being developed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust with support from the New Forest National Park Authority, is aiming to address the concerns of parents by developing wild play areas, regularly monitored by community champions, where children can safely learn about nature through play.

In total 378 adults and children took part in the outdoor play survey, and the results from the children surveyed showed that:

  • 37 per cent play outdoors just once a week or less
  • Only 11 per cent play outside most often with parents, guardians or grandparents
  • The most common place for a child to play unsupervised was in their own, or a friend’s, back garden.

This echoes nationwide studies that have shown children have less freedom to play outside and get in touch with nature than previous generations. Less than a quarter of children regularly use their local ‘patch of nature’, compared to over half of all adults when they were children, according to Natural England research (tinyurl.com/37okvmt).

James Brown, the National Park Authority’s Community Engagement Officer, said: ‘In many ways the results of this survey are bittersweet. On the one hand children remain eager to play outdoors with their parents or friends, and the majority do play outdoors every day outside of school hours. These results are certainly illuminating, and will help us to develop our wild play project, which aims to provide exciting outdoor play opportunities in the New Forest for children, while helping to address the concerns of parents.’

Work is already underway with parish councils and schools to develop wild play areas, which will provide safe and engaging areas for children to experience nature.   


£20.6m Lottery boost for public parks - Heritage Lottery Fund 

Seven much-loved public parks are set to be revitalised thanks to new investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund.

Cannon Hall Park and Gardens, Barnsley (image: HLF)The historic public parks are receiving grants today totalling £20.6m for important regeneration works, new community facilities and a range of activities that will generate income and involve volunteers.

This Lottery investment in parks comes six months after the publication of HLF’s report State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to Risk which revealed that the UK’s public parks are at serious risk of decline unless innovative ways of funding and maintaining them are found.

Cannon Hall Park and Gardens, Barnsley (image: HLF)

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said on behalf of HLF and the Big Lottery Fund:  “Since our report was published, it’s become even clearer that parks are facing an uncertain future, in spite of being more popular than ever. Today’s investment will not only help to regenerate these historic parks, ensuring local people have access to high quality green spaces, but it also brings to life several exciting plans that will see parks used for training, events and activities.”

Currently unused structures including walled gardens, gardener’s cottages and historic halls and houses will be repaired and used as volunteer and training centres, event spaces and community facilities.

The parks funded are also partnering with schools and colleges, ensuring that the local community can learn a range of horticulture and other skills, enabling them to get involved in the restoration and future management and maintenance of their parks. Several apprenticeships will also be offered.


Busy Bees Goes Wild: Exclusive learning enhancement programme designed for UK nurseries - Wildlife Trusts

Busy Bees has joined forces with The Wildlife Trusts to promote the great outdoors and the fabulous fun to be had exploring all that nature has to offer with children

Busy Bees Scrapbook Cover (Wildlife Trusts)We want as many children as possible to experience nature and enabling this to happen at a young age is really important

Intended to reignite children’s curiosity for the natural world, and in doing so help protect its many wonders for generations of children yet to come, Busy Bees Goes Wild will launch this month to babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers across all of Busy Bees’ 236 nurseries across the UK. 

Commenting on the partnership, Marg Randles, co-founder and managing director of Busy Bees Childcare, explained:

“Exploring the natural world has been an integral part of childhood for centuries and represents a free, fun and accessible way for children, and their families, to spend quality time together, learn and play.  It also supports active and healthy lifestyles.  Yet, for several reasons – including the advancement of technology – the great outdoors is becoming a less attractive proposition for many children and parents.  We’ve partnered with The Wildlife Trusts because we want to champion the great outdoors and encourage our children to discover exciting facts about nature and enjoy the limitless fun that can be had exploring it.  We’re really looking forward to launching Busy Bees Goes Wild and can’t wait to see the colourful and creative scrapbooks our children are going to produce.”

Adam Cormack, Communications Manager for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Helping children and families to discover nature and make the most of the wildlife close to home is a big part of our work.  We want as many children as possible to experience nature and enabling this to happen at a young age is really important. The Busy Bees Goes Wild scheme is all about getting children closer to nature.  The scrapbooks offer ways for children to record and share their wildlife experiences and the awards encourage an interest in nature through letting them get outside and experience the real thing for themselves.  We’re delighted to be helping Busy Bees to get more children interested in nature and we hope that, for some, it could be the start of a lifelong interest in wildlife.”

Find out more at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/BusyBeesGoesWild 


Bad news for backyard biodiversity - BTO

Global biodiversity loss has hit the headlines with worrying frequency during the latter part of 2014, be it the rate at which Amazonian rainforests are being felled or the increase in poaching pressure on African elephants and the northern white rhino.

House Sparrow by Edmund Fellowes/BTOThe British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO’s) latest BirdTrends report, produced in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and published online, summarises the population trends for 120 breeding bird species across Britain & Ireland using data collected by volunteer surveyors. For the first time, this year’s report provides habitat-specific trends for many species, highlighting those habitats where species are in trouble. While intensive conservation efforts and targeted habitat management have benefited some rarer UK bird species, many widespread and formerly common birds are experiencing severe declines. Twenty-eight species, almost a quarter of those included in the BirdTrends report, have exhibited a fall in numbers of greater than 50% over the last 35-45 years.

House Sparrow by Edmund Fellowes/BTO

“National declines in farmland birds are well-documented and these latest figures show that this decrease is continuing,” explains the report’s lead author, Senior Research Fellow Dr Stephen Baillie. “The results of BTO surveys show that many familiar garden birds are also experiencing problems. House Sparrow numbers have dropped by almost 70% since the 1960s and the data suggest that sparrows occupying urban and suburban habitats are faring worst.”

“The range of garden birds experiencing population declines appears to be increasing,” explains report co-author John Marchant. “While many will be familiar with the disappearance of House Sparrow, Starling and Spotted Flycatcher, it may surprise people to know that House Martin, Mistle Thrush and Greenfinch are heading in the same direction.”   


Opportunity to engage with UK Science Landscape Project - NERC 

The Prime Minister's Council for Science & Technology (CST) has announced a new project which aims to build a picture of the whole UK research landscape and develop a stronger evidence base. This evidence base will be available to inform future strategic decision making and help the UK maintain and develop its excellence in research.

CST wants to better understand how the UK's research community defines itself, and the links and interconnections that exist between research disciplines. To do this they have developed the UK Knowledge Landscape Tool, which is designed to gather data from researchers on the disciplines, dependencies and key infrastructure they think make up modern research.

CST is interested in crowd sourcing a large amount of data which will be analysed for statistically significant patterns across the whole body of responses, then used to produce outputs such as taxonomies or maps. The more responses the tool has the better the mapping will be, and NERC encourages its academic community to input as widely as possible.

To take part in this exciting and experimental project, please create an account on the UK Knowledge Landscape website.


Government gives Green Gyms £475,000 to grow - TCV 

TCV's Green Gym initiative has been awarded almost half a million pound (£475,000) investment by the Cabinet Office and innovation foundation Nesta.

Volunteers warming up at a Green Gym (image TCV) Recognised by the Department of Health and GPs as having a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of those who take part, Green Gyms are outdoors sessions during which instructors guide individuals through activities such as tree planting, food growing, creating footpaths and maintaining woodlands. Improving the health and wellbeing of the individual and creating improved community spaces for all to enjoy.

Volunteers warming up at a Green Gym (image TCV) 

Unlike other conservation projects, the emphasis of Green Gyms is very much on health and fitness - volunteers warm up and cool down in preparation for what can be quite vigorous exercise. Almost a third more calories can be burnt in Green Gym sessions than in an average aerobics class. This innovative way of getting people active and healthy whilst benefiting their local communities was the reason why TCV was awarded funding.

The funding will be used to support the growth of dedicated Green Gym staff, both nationally and locally. This will enable the charity to grow the Green Gym movement to improve the health of communities across the country and develop outdoor spaces for those communities to enjoy.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to grow our Green Gym offering as a result of the funding awarded by the Cabinet Office and Nesta. Green Gyms are free, fun and help people get fit at the same time as improving their community space. The funding will enable more people, and more communities, to benefit from this brilliant resource. As the new year begins, people up and down the country will look to make good on their resolutions to get fitter and healthier. Thanks to the funding, TCV will be in a position to help Britain get healthy." Julie Hopes, Chief Executive of The Conservation Volunteers


New funding for Dragonscapes! - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

ARC are delighted to announce that our forthcoming “Dragonscapes” project – involving local communities in habitat creation and restoration, and monitoring of amphibians and reptiles across South Wales – has received support totalling £249,935 from the Big Lottery Fund People and Places grant scheme.

The project aims to re-engage the people of South Wales with the natural environment, providing them with opportunities to make a positive difference to the declining wildlife on their doorstep. These new experiences will encourage outdoor exercise, improve mental wellbeing and provide skills to help communities to live healthier happier lives in harmony with the natural world. This will include amphibian and reptile surveying/monitoring, improving their local patch for wildlife and working with nature to grow food for communities. The grant, over three years, will fund two full-time posts of Habitat and Species Officer, the purchase of a vehicle to transport equipment and volunteers to tasks, staff and volunteer expenses, training, marketing and monitoring & evaluation costs as well as equipment and lots of habitat creation and restoration!


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