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


2015 programme launches to find new generation of environmental journalists - Keep Scotland Beautiful

Young Reporters Scotland competition encourages investigative reporting

Keep Scotland Beautiful, the charity for Scotland’s environment, today (18th May) launched the Young Reporters Scotland programme - which is set to help young people in Scotland find their voice on environmental and sustainability issues and take action.

The annual quest will see young people Scotland-wide encouraged to get creative and submit a piece of journalism which explores, and proposes a solution to, a sustainability issue within their own community. The competition is open to young people, and it is hoped that colleges and youth groups will take up the 2015 challenge.

The 2015 Young Reporters Scotland competition encourages submissions in an array of media, from video and animation, to articles, blogs and photography. Winners of the Scotland-wide competition will also have the chance to compete at international level - where they can become a part of a network of young people producing creative solutions to environmental issues within their own communities.

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Young Reporters Scotland is a fantastic programme which will help to create further awareness amongst young people, whilst helping to develop a range of life skills. We are excited by the level of interest in this initiative and eager to get young people even more proactively involved in helping their own environment.”

The competition welcomes enquiries from young people who are interested in taking part. More information on the competition, ideas and inspiration can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/yrs  


Nature lovers can now get involved with citizen science across the United Kingdom - OPAL

People of all ages can now contribute to scientific research in their local area on everything from invasive species to environmental quality, through the Open Air Laboratories programme (OPAL).

The programme, led by Imperial College London, has been inspiring communities in England to discover, enjoy and protect their local environment since 2007. More than 850,000 people

have already taken part and today OPAL officially rolls out across the whole of the UK. A range of organisations, including universities, wildlife groups and museums, are working in partnership to deliver the programme’s citizen science activities, including six national environment surveys.

Citizen scientists have already used lichens to identify areas affected by air pollution and discovered that earthworm diversity is high in back gardens. The expansion of OPAL’s surveys now means scientists will be able to track the spread of invasive species, such as the damaging Chalara ash dieback disease, as well as find out more about the differences between urban and rural biodiversity.

OPAL Director Dr David Slawson said: “We are very pleased to be able to roll out OPAL in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our activities have been very popular already, with more than 850,000 people taking part and submitting more than 50,000 records about their local environment. Not only are people learning more about their environment, but this valuable data is helping scientists learn a great deal about biodiversity in our country, especially in areas they would never normally be able to study, such as back gardens. We hope many more people will join in, explore nature and contribute to our knowledge of the environment across the whole of the UK.”

The expansion has been made possible by a £3 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund. This comes on top of £15 million of lottery funding awarded to the project between 2007 and 2012

Find out about OPAL events in your area, or download easy to use and free survey resources

Full news release (PDF)


Rum research reveals important deer management lessons - Scottish Natural Heritage

A summary of decades of research findings on red deer on one of Scotland's special national nature reserves (NNRs) has been published today (19/5) to help deer managers.  The study on the Isle of Rum is the world’s longest running research study of a deer population. Since 1972, every individual living in one area of the island has been monitored by a research team, first from Cambridge and nowadays from Edinburgh University.

Professor Josephine Pemberton, one of the report authors, commented:  “The differences between stags and hinds in their responses to variation in weather and density conditions are truly fascinating. Juvenile stags, in particular, are very sensitive to poor conditions, and this has major implications for managing deer populations.”

Some of the other key findings include:

  • Reducing deer density, especially hind density, increases calving rates, as well as the proportion of stag calves born, the survival rates of calves and yearlings, and antler size. Simple models show stag numbers are at their highest when hinds are culled at a rate of 10 to 20 percent.
  • The warming climate is causing deer to breed earlier each year – by 12 days since 1980.
  • Weather effects mean that hind and stag numbers can change unpredictably from year to year, so regular counting and a responsive culling regime is crucial.

Welcoming the new guidance, Robbie Kernahan, SNH wildlife operations manager, said: “It’s great to see all of this work being pulled together. I would encourage all deer managers to make some time and reflect on this fascinating research. Although conditions vary across the country, the information that has been gathered from the work on Rum can and should help us manage deer more effectively in Scotland.”

The publication arose from a joint visit last year to Rum NNR by SNH Chairman Ian Ross and recently retired Director of Forestry and Environment in the Scottish Government, Dr Bob McIntosh. They were so inspired by the research being carried out, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, that they commissioned the booklet.

Download the booklet from here.


Rejecting extinction: beaver reintroduction offers major benefits to Scotland - Trees for Life

​The potential reintroduction of beavers to Scotland after almost 500 years is an historic opportunity that could bring major environmental and economic benefits to Scotland – including by generating millions of pounds through eco-tourism, said award-winning conservation charity Trees for Life today (19/5).

European beaver feeding (image, Laurie Campbell, via Trees for Life)European beaver feeding (image, Laurie Campbell, via Trees for Life)

This week or next, Scottish Natural Heritage is due to report to the Scottish Government on the Scottish Beaver Trial – a five-year trial reintroduction of beavers in Argyll’s Knapdale Forest – paving the way for the government to announce later this year whether the species will be allowed to live freely in Scotland again.

Trees for Life says that reintroducing this native animal would allow the UK to play ecological catch-up with other European nations – 25 of which have already reintroduced the beaver, with Sweden leading the way as long ago as 1922. The UK is one of only seven countries still lacking an officially-sanctioned wild beaver population.

“The beaver deserves to be welcomed back to Scotland with open arms. These remarkable ecosystem engineers can transform the health of our rivers and forest ecosystems, and could benefit communities through an estimated £2 million tourism revenue annually,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director. “We are legally obliged by European directives to consider the beaver’s reintroduction, and – having caused the animal’s extinction – we have an ethical obligation too. Reintroducing beavers to Scotland would be the right thing to do and an historic leap forwards for rewilding – the restoration of our damaged ecosystems.”

Beavers are a ‘keystone species’, meaning that they play a critical ecological role and provide a range of benefits for other species. They coppice and fell trees – letting light into the forest, enabling other species to grow. By damming watercourses they create wetland areas – habitats for amphibians, invertebrates and fish, which in turn attract birds and otters. Their actions can improve water quality and reduce flooding. 


Work begins in Essex on new internationally important wetland- Environment Agency

The Environment Agency starts construction work this week on a major extension to Essex Wildlife Trust’s Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve, on the Colne estuary.  

Fingringhoe Wick image: © - Essex Wildlife TrustFingringhoe Wick image: © - Essex Wildlife Trust

The estuary has national and international designations due to its conservation importance and has recently been included in the Marine Conservation Zone designation.

Coastal habitats that make it special include tidal mudflats, saltmarshes and coastal grazing marsh in Essex. Around 80% of the coastal marshes have been lost and the remaining are disappearing at an alarming rate.

The project, which is a partnership between the Trust and the Agency, will see 22 hectares of new intertidal habitat created by breaching the existing seawall – allowing the tide to enter the site. The habitat will be a mix of saltmarsh, mudflat and saline lagoon, with a further 1.5 hectares of new reedbed.

Once planning permission was granted in 2013, the Trust’s supporters raised over £125,000 to buy the land for the project. A number of key funders and donors also supported the acquisition.

Andy May, Conservation Manager for Essex Wildlife Trust said: “This is a very exciting project, which will make much-loved Fingringhoe Wick even better for wildlife and people. We are really looking forward to working in partnership again with the Environment Agency to bring this important work to fruition.”

Charles Beardall, Area Manager for the Environment Agency said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust, and so pleased that our workforce is playing such a huge part in creating this new internationally important habitat.”

Over the next four months new seawalls will be built to the north and south of the proposed intertidal habitat and it is hoped the breach will be created in the autumn.

The new wetland will also include: new nursery areas for marine fish, Little Tern nesting islands, a new bird hide and new public footpaths on this previously private part of the estuary. Among other species to benefit will be Black-tailed Godwit, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Lapwing, Bittern, Water Vole and a range of dragonflies.


Changing Views in The National Park - Cairngorms National Park

A photography project with a difference was launched over the weekend at the Cairngorms Nature Festival.

Cairngorms Scenic Photo Posts have popped up all over the Cairngorms National Park and anyone with a camera, tablet or smartphone can get involved in this new project to look at how our landscape changes over time.

The wooden posts are at 14 stunning locations across the Cairngorms National Park and each one has a camera bracket on top to ensure everyone takes exactly the same view.  Having found the post, pop your camera, phone or tablet into the bracket, take a photo and then you can register and upload the image on to the Photo Posts website and contribute to a visual record of our changing landscape.

The project is a pilot initiative designed and set up by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) with support and funding from the Forestry Commission for Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

Matthew Hawkins, Landscape and Ecology Manager at the CNPA, explains more, “This is an exciting project that everyone can get involved in and will make a valuable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the National Park. You can register to upload images as an individual or a group making it an ideal project for walking clubs, schools and community groups.”

Some of the views are wide, panoramic and stunning, others are close-up and focused on the detail of an interesting habitat. They are in a variety of locations, some are a short walk away from settlements, others require a bit more of a hike. Each one has been selected because it is expected to show changes over time.

The website is now live and all the photographs that people upload are available for everyone to see and enjoy www.cairngorms.co.uk/photo-posts 


State of nature in the EU: biodiversity still being eroded, but some local improvements observed European Environment Agency

The majority of habitats and species in Europe have an unfavourable conservation status despite significant improvements for many species in recent years, according to a new technical report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) today. The report presents the most comprehensive European overview on the conservation status and trends of the habitats and species covered by the European Union’s (EU) two nature directives. Building on the reports submitted by EU member states, the report contributes to policy discussions in the context of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.

The two nature directives, namely the Birds and Habitats directives, play a central role in the EU’s biodiversity and nature conservation policies. Under the directives, EU Member States are required to assess and report every six years on the status and trends of certain species and habitats. The EEA technical report State of Nature in the EU: Results from reporting under the nature directives 2007-2012 draws on the assessments submitted by Member States under both directives and provides a comprehensive overview of the state of nature in Europe at European, country and biogeographic level analysis. The report also looks into main pressures and threats behind the trends observed.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said, ‘This unique assessment is a first of its kind, building on extensive observation networks of experts and citizens alike. Despite some information gaps, it provides the most complete picture of Europe’s biodiversity to date.’ Bruyninckx added, ‘The results are mixed but clear. When implemented well, conservation measures work and improve the status of habitats and species on the ground. Such improvements remain limited and patchy, and unfortunately Europe’s biodiversity is still being eroded overall and the pressures continue. We also need to understand that when dealing with maintaining and enhancing biodiversity, it takes time for our actions to make a difference on a large scale. Therefore, we need to reinforce our effort and actions.’

Moreover, the EEA’s report informs on progress towards Targets 1 and 3 of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. These findings will serve as an input to the European Commission’s upcoming Mid-Term Review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

Download the report and data from here.


Reactions from WWT & IUCN

EU State of Nature Report points to continued loss of biodiversity, but success of Natura 2000 - IUCN

The State of Nature in the EU report, released by the European Environment Agency, shows that few species and habitats have a favourable conservation status in the EU and that progress towards the 2020 biodiversity strategy targets has not been substantial since the last assessment. Nevertheless, it also demonstrates that species and habitats with favourable status trends have benefited greatly from protection through the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, which now covers 18% of the EU’s land and 4% of marine waters.

“The findings of this report are clear: We need to step up efforts to halt biodiversity loss, and focus on a full and effective implementation of the EU nature legislation,” said Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN European Regional Office in Brussels. “I have recently heard many EU Environment Ministers call to uphold the EU’s strong regulatory framework. These messages are crucial at a time when the Directives are being assessed as part of the European Commission’s ongoing regulatory fitness programme (REFIT), and also in view of the upcoming mid-term review of EU Biodiversity Strategy”.


Wetland hope among awful nature report - WWT

A Great Bittern at WWT, (image © WWT, Graham Hann)Conservation success story – a Great Bittern at WWT (image © WWT, Graham Hann)

Wetlands and grasslands are Europe’s most deteriorating landscapes, but there is hope that the trend can be reversed.

That’s the findings of a new European Commission report on the state of nature across the continent including the UK. It found that nearly half (48%) of all bird species are declining or depleted, and that the status of nearly two thirds (60%) of all types of wildlife is unfavourable.

The report says “the conservation status of and trends for habitats are worse than for species”, with three quarters (77%) described as unfavourable. Wetlands are picked out as being particularly hard hit because of the impact of drainage and of agriculture. Europe has lost more than two thirds of its wetlands, they now cover only about 2% of the continent.

But wetlands are among the world’s most wildlife-rich habitat and the report highlights that conservation work in wetlands can make a really noticeable difference.

WWT’s Head of Campaigns Peter Morris said: “The report underlines that wetlands are among the most damaged of our landscapes, but unlike ancient forests they are also among the most repairable. London is a prime example. It was once mainly wetlands, almost all of which have now disappeared and the wildlife with it. But London Wetland Centre demonstrates that it is possible to rebuild healthy wetlands and attract regionally rare species like the bittern back to the capital. While half of Europe’s wildlife is declining or depleted, at London Wetland Centre the number of plant species has rocketed from 192 to 440."


Ten years of invasion - a decade of recording harlequin ladybirds - Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) was first recorded in the UK in October 2004. A new paper, published today in Ecological Entomology, looks at how the arrival of the Harlequin prompted a large scale citizen science project, encouraging people across Britain to track its spread.

The paper was written by Dr Helen Roy of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Dr Peter Brown from Anglia Ruskin University. Both help run the UK Ladybird Survey.

Harlequin Ladybirds photo: Nick Greatorex-Davies via CEHHarlequin ladybirds (Photo: Nick Greatorex-Davies)

A decade after its arrival, tens of thousands of people have provided records of the harlequin and other species of ladybirds, creating an invaluable dataset for large-scale and long-term research. The methods used, and lessons learned, have also been vital to the establishment of the UK early warning alert system for other invasive species.

The dataset has been used to show declines in the distribution of seven (of eight assessed) native species of ladybird, after the arrival of the harlequin. Research in both the laboratory and the field has contributed greatly to increased understanding of ecological invasion processes.

Dr Helen Roy, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and lead author of the review paper said, “We hope that people will continue to be part of the UK Ladybird Survey as we still have so much to learn about the harlequin ladybird and its interactions with other species. We would also like to increase our understanding of the resilience of the networks of species with which the harlequin ladybird intermingles. Our free smartphone app, iRecord Ladybirds, ensures that it is extremely easy to record sightings of all ladybirds.”

Full paper reference: Helen E Roy and Peter M J Brown. Ten years of invasion: Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinelllidae) in Britain. 2015. Ecological Entomology. doi: 10.1111/een.12203


National crime survey to focus on rural concerns – Countryside Alliance

NRCN via Countryside AllianceThe largest ever survey into crime in rural areas has been launched in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to investigate the true impact of offences on countryside communities. The survey, launched by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN)*, backed by the Countryside Alliance and supported by the Home Office, is calling for people who work or live in rural areas to come forward and give their views on countryside crimes, the impact they have on the wider community and to help shape the future of crime prevention and rural policing.

The full scale of crime in rural areas has never before been assessed, which is why we are encouraging anyone living or working in rural areas to take part in the survey to help build a picture of what is a widespread but often misunderstood issue, which is why we are emailing. We need your help in spreading the message of this survey to your constituents. I attach a draft press release pledging your support, which we would like you to send to your local media, promote through your website and circulate on social media. The survey will be open until Wednesday 24 June and to complete the survey, you just need to click here. We have written to parliamentarians asking them to back this survey and help us to uncover the rural crime priorities, whether that be gundog theft, livestock rustling, fly-tipping or other issues.


£25m EU backed tidal energy project attracts inward investment to Anglesey – The Welsh Government

A Swedish energy company is setting up its UK headquarters in North Wales after securing £9.5 million of EU funds to develop a £25 million tidal energy initiative off the coast of Holyhead.

Swedish company Minesto will initially create around 30 direct jobs and hundreds more in the long term in areas like manufacturing, offshore operations and new project development as part of an innovative scheme called ‘Deep Green’ that will design, manufacture and test a low velocity device to produce electricity for thousands of homes from tidal and ocean currents.

Weighing seven tonnes and operating at least 15 metres below the water surface, Deep Green’s underwater ‘kite’ technology can operate in waters where no other known technology can perform as cost-effectively due to its unique ability to run in low velocity areas.

The proposed installation site in the southern corner of Holyhead Deep has been chosen to maintain separation from shipping lanes and to minimise impact on other sea users. Installation of the device will commence during the summer of 2017, and if successful the company will manufacture more ‘Deep Green’ devices from its assembly plant in Anglesey for export around the world, creating more jobs in the area.

The Welsh Government has been working with Minesto over a number of years on feasibility studies to help bring this investment to North Wales.


Don’t Mow, Let it Grow! - Heritage Lottery Fund 

New natural heritage project is aiming to challenge our desire for neat and tidy mown grass.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council will develop a new approach to grassland management - restoring our traditional meadows and grasslands and letting them grow to create a range of positive impacts for local wildlife. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has earmarked £135,000 in support of the three-year project and provided £9,000 upfront to help develop the plans in more detail.Bees buzzing around wild flowers

Bees buzzing around wild flowers (image: HLF)

Currently some publically owned grasslands and road verges are over-managed. Some can be cut several times each month, partly due to public demand for neat and tidy mown grass. By contrast traditional hay meadows are cut once at the end of summer, allowing flowers and insects like bumblebees, moths and butterflies to flourish. The Don’t Mow, Let it Grow project will work in partnership with Transport NI and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to restore a number of public grasslands and road verges to flower-rich meadows. Invasive species which pose a real threat to our natural heritage, such as Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed, will also be managed and where possible eradicated.

A number of verges and amenity grasslands will be identified where various management techniques will be trialled. A toolkit will be created to share these techniques with other public and private organisations, spreading the message beyond the immediate area and helping to improve the management of sites right across the country. As we are used to seeing these public grassy areas kept tidy an important part of the project will be convincing the local community of the benefits of allowing our native wildflowers to grow, flower and set seed. Volunteers will be recruited to take part in surveying and recording the species and habitats, and an education programme will help raise awareness of the wider benefits of the project.


Pembrokeshire Coast is one of ‘the five best National Parks in the world’ - Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

The Pembrokeshire Coast landscape has once again been heralded as among the best in the world, having been included in a list of the five best National Parks on the planet by a writer from the luxury travel website Condé Nast Traveller.

The Pembrokeshire Coast has been included in a list of the five best National Parks in the world.The Pembrokeshire Coast has been included in a list of the five best National Parks in the world.

(Image: Pembrokshire National Park Authority)

The list, which was written by Condé Nast Traveller’s Sarah Bruning for the Huffington Post’s travel blog, also includes the Northumberland National Park along with other entries from Italy, Bulgaria and the USA.

Describing the Pembrokeshire Coast, Sarah Bruning said: “Horseback riding is a popular excursion for visitors to the UK's only coastal national park, which also features a number of stunning national formations, such as the Green Bridge of Wales.”

The Pembrokeshire Coast is no stranger to global accolades having been voted the second best coastal area in the world National Geographic Traveller magazine in 2011.

National Park Authority Chairman, Cllr Mike James said: “It is fantastic that the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s world-class landscape has once again been recognised as one the best in the world.

“This adds to the growing list of accolades the National Park has received in recent years and will provide a great boost to the area as businesses prepare for the Whitsun half term and the start of another summer season.”

The Pembrokeshire Coast’s beaches have also recently received the Condé Nast seal of approval, with both Barafundle Bay and Whitesands both being named among the best beaches in Britain.

Read the article in full.


England’s Natura 2000 sites: new report - Natural England 

Report on how to improve Natura 2000 sites in England published.

A report published by Natural England’s improvement programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites (IPENS) project sets out a blueprint for the long-term management of 338 of England’s important nature sites.

Natura 2000 is a European designation (including Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation ) that protects important natural habitats and species. Natura 2000 sites include some of the country’s most familiar landscapes including the Northumberland coast, the New Forest, the Norfolk Broads and Salisbury Plain.

The Culm Grasslands Special Area of Conservation supports the largest population of marsh fritillary butterfly in the UK, Marsh fritillary butterfly © Alan Drewitt/Natural EnglandThe Culm Grasslands Special Area of Conservation supports the largest population of marsh fritillary butterfly in the UK, Marsh fritillary butterfly © Alan Drewitt/Natural England

There are 338 Natura 2000 sites in England, in both marine and terrestrial locations, covering more than 2 million hectares. These are sites that have been designated either as a Special Protection Area due to the rare, vulnerable or migratory birds present or as a Special Area of Conservation, which protect a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats. Where these are on land they are also notified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Many Natura 2000 sites are being adequately conserved and meet their conservation objectives. However, others are not yet in a healthy state due to a number of pressures. The 2-year IPENS project involved more than 650 different organisations and has significantly improved the understanding of what needs to be done to protect and enhance the Natura 2000 network in England.

This is the first time that this information has been drawn together for all of England’s Natura 2000 sites.

  • The achievements of the project so far have included:
  • producing a site improvement plan for each Natura 2000 network site
  • developing strategic plans to address issues that affect multiple sites
  • outlining priority actions needed to achieve favourable conditions
  • identifying gaps in Natura 2000 evidence

A site improvement plan has been produced covering every Natura 2000 site in England. The plans present the best available evidence in support of actions required to achieve and maintain sites in a good condition. More than 6,000 specific actions have been identified in the individual plans.

Natura 2000 dayThe summary report from the IPENS project is available for download from the Natural England publications catalogue. The IPENS report has been published to coincide with European Natura 2000 Day Thursday 21 May 2015.


Reactions to the publication of the State of Nature report published yesterday, details here


One very close to home:

Fishy tales from the classroom - North York Moors National Park Authority

Atlantic salmon in the river Esk got a boost this week when children from Goathland Primary School released 70 young fry they had raised in their classroom into the river at Beck Hole. The salmon were raised from eggs in a special hatchery tank as part of an annual ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ project organised by the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) in partnership with the Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust.

The tank was installed in the classroom in March and staff from the NYMNPA talked to the children about the various animals that live in the river including the freshwater pearl mussel which depends on salmon and trout as a host for its larvae. The whole school has been involved in looking after the young salmon and a display has been created showcasing the children’s artwork inspired by their fishy guests.

The river Esk is the only river in Yorkshire with a freshwater pearl mussel population but numbers are in drastic decline. With the help of landowners, the NYMNPA is carrying out restoration work on the river to benefit freshwater pearl mussels and a host of other species. It is also involved in a captive breeding programme in the hope that juvenile pearl mussels can be re-introduced to the Esk to bolster the existing ageing population. Pollution and sediment build up, decline in fish populations and habitat degradation are all reasons for their decline.

Susan Chadwick, Head Teacher at Goathland Primary School, said: “This has been a wonderful experience for the children who have delighted in watching the fish develop from eggs to small fry. They have all been very diligent in feeding the fish and monitoring the temperature in the tank to make sure they don’t get too warm, and have proudly shown them off to parents and visitors to the school. I think they’ll miss seeing them develop further but equally are looking forward to letting them get on with the next stage of their life in the river Esk.”

The NYMNPA has been running the ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ project since 2009 working with a different primary school in the Esk Valley each year.


MyParkScotland - join us in the park - Greenspace Scotland
From today [Friday 22 May] finding where to have a great day out in parks has just got easier. MyParkScotland www.mypark.scot provides a new way to discover and support our wonderful parks in Edinburgh and Glasgow. 
Launching with park events and activities over the Spring Bank holiday weekend, MyParkScotland isn’t just a super information website, it’s also Scotland’s only crowdfunding site specifically for parks and greenspace projects.
Ian Goodman, Project Manager said: “Park users often told us they would like to be able to support their local park but there wasn’t an easy way to do this. That’s why we developed MyParkScotland as a safe and easy way for people to donate to support park improvement projects developed by Friends of Parks and other local groups, and to make donations to parks. MyParkScotland is an independent Scottish charity and this means we are able to reclaim Gift Aid on donations and we are using this ‘extra funding’ to build sustainability and endowment funds for Scotland’s parks – helping to safeguard these national treasures for future generations.” 
One of the first projects to feature on MyParkScotland is the Hayburn Play Park Association in Glasgow – they’ve already raised £70k towards their target of £81k to create an amazing natural play environment for children; they are looking to raise £550 to create a mini-orchard. Over in Edinburgh, the Friends of Figgate Park will be raising money for bat boxes in the park and in Saughton Park they’re looking to bring the historic bandstand back to life.
Read the press release in full


Let's keep to the bee line - RSPB as part of The Bee Coalition

The Bee Coalition has reacted with dismay to news that the National Farmers Union is attempting to sidestep an EU ban on neonicotinoids, pesticides known to be harmful to bees. 

The NFU has applied for an emergency licence to apply neonicotinoid seed treatments to oilseed rape crops sown this autumn. The chemicals are currently under an EU-wide ban because of evidence that they pose a risk to bees and other pollinators.  Research by independent scientists has continued to strengthen this evidence and raised further concerns that neonicotinoids could potentially harm other wildlife as well.Queen short-haired bumblebee on clover

Bees are crucial to food production, Image: Nikki Gammans via RSPB

Peter Lundgren is a Lincolnshire farmer who grows oilseed rape and other combinable crops.  He stopped using neonicotinoids in 2013.  Peter said: “So far I am managing well without neonicotinoids and I am constantly looking to improve my system further.  Any pesticide can have unwanted impacts, but with sprays these can be minimised by following best practice, like only spraying if pest thresholds are exceeded.  For me this is one of the advantages of moving away from seed treatments, where you have to make a decision even before the growing season starts.  And the cost to my business of not using neonicotinoid seed treatment is minimal - just £2.20 per hectare.  As far as I’m concerned this cost is outweighed by the importance of conserving our pollinator populations.”  

Dave Timms, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Bees are crucial for our food and farming. In a month when the Government’s Chief Scientist has highlighted the growing evidence that neonicotinoids are posing a threat to our wildlife, it is particularly worrying that the NFU continues to take this blinkered approach."  

Ellie Crane, RSPB, said: "Declining pollinator populations, degraded soils, disappearing farmland birds: these are challenges the sector urgently needs to face up to.  Given the evidence that the use of neonicotinoids could be contributing to these environmental losses, the only responsible approach is to stop using them while the necessary research is carried out.”

Matt Shardlow, Buglife, said: “The evidence is resounding: neonicotinoids destroy populations of wild bees.  To risk further damage to our pollinator life support system would be highly irresponsible.  This ban-busting application must be firmly rejected.”

Last year, a similar application by Syngenta for an exemption to the ban was withdrawn after a petition signed by over 200,000 people was handed in at Downing Street.


Original press release from NFU on 15 May - Neonicotinoid ban continues to devastate OSR crop

Farmers across the country are continuing to suffer heavy losses through oilseed rape crop damage following restrictions to the availability of neonicotinoids, the NFU said today.

This has resulted in an emergency use application by the NFU to allow farmers to use seed treatments in rapeseed this autumn being submitted to Government.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “Since last autumn we have heard from hundreds of our members growing oilseed rape that establishing the crop has become far more difficult and expensive, if not impossible, without neonicotinoid seed dressing. Because of this we want the authorities to allow farmers to use the seed treatments they need to make growing oilseed rape viable. Similar applications are being made elsewhere in the EU and, of course, neonicotinoids continue to be used by oilseed rape growers across the world.

NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly added: “It has already been increasingly difficult for arable farmers to control problems like cabbage stem flea beetle and turnip yellows virus (spread by peach potato aphids) as well as many weed species such as blackgrass due to the reduced number of products available for control and resistance developing against those products that remain. The problem will only get worse if more products go, with vast ‘unintended’ consequences for farmers and wider society.” 


Badger vaccination programme to expand - The Wildlife Trusts

Badger image credit Jon Hawkins, via Wildlife TrustsBadger (image credit Jon Hawkins, via Wildlife Trusts)

One of the regions considered most at risk of the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) will see badgers vaccinated over the next four years, following a cash boost

Vaccination starts this month in an area focussing on land in and around Edale and the Peak District National Park 

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust will receive £98,600 from the Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) under its Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme.  Vaccination starts this month in an area focussing on 26km2 of farmland and National Trust land, in and around Edale and the Peak District National Park. 

The award builds on work already undertaken by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust during 2014 following a successful public appeal to kick-start a vaccination programme, which raised over £54,000.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Badger Vaccination Programme is now considered one of the most successful models in the country and is being developed in close partnership with the National Trust, National Farmers Union (NFU), Derbyshire’s Badger Group and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).  The partnership scheme is now worth an estimated £350,000 in Derbyshire alone, when taking into account volunteer time on top of Defra’s award and generous public donations.  It is one of 13 Wildlife Trust-led vaccination schemes across England and Wales.

Tim Birch, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Head of Advocacy and Conservation Strategy, said

“We are delighted to receive funding from the Government to further develop our important work vaccinating badgers in Derbyshire.  We are working closely with multiple partners to ensure that our Badger Vaccination Programme expands and is successfully delivered. We believe that badger vaccination is now being recognised as a very important tool for helping deal with the bovine TB crisis in cattle across England along with other important actions including the development of a cattle vaccine.”

The partnership between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust is proving that ongoing vaccination of badgers is of crucial importance in the efforts to help deal with the bovine TB crisis.  Tim Birch adds:

The Wildlife Trusts renew calls to this Government to demonstrate leadership and support in confronting bovine TB with an effective and sustainable long-term strategy.  An ongoing key focus on cattle measures is also vital


Report from the Mammal Society on research published in Mammal Review

How we report interactions with badgers impacts on how we treat them - Mammal Society

The way in which people think and talk about wildlife matters for the support for and effectiveness of nature conservation, and thus for the coexistence of humans and wildlife. New research published in Mammal Review has analysed badger (Meles meles) framings (how badgers are viewed and described) in the Netherlands and has shown how the perception of these mammals has altered over the last century (1900 – 2013): badgers are now regarded more favourably than in the past.

Despite a substantial increase in the badger population in the Netherlands which has led to more confrontations with humans (collisions with vehicles, damage to crops and gardens), negative reporting in the Dutch media declined; it is now nearly absent and cases of badger persecution are seldom reported. This is in stark contrast to the UK, where badgers remain highly controversial as a result of the ongoing debate over culling wild badgers to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

Access the paper: Runhaar H, Runhaar M, Vink H (2015) Reports on badgers Meles meles in Dutch newspapers 1900–2013: same animals, different framings? Mammal Review.  DOI: 10.1111/mam.12040


Scientific Publications

Hastie, G. D., Russell, D. J.F., McConnell, B., Moss, S., Thompson, D., Janik, V. M. (2015), Sound exposure in harbour seals during the installation of an offshore wind farm: predictions of auditory damage. Journal of Applied Ecology, doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12403


Laura Henckel, Luca Börger, Helmut Meiss, Sabrina Gaba, Vincent Bretagnolle. Organic fields sustain weed metacommunity dynamics in farmland landscapes Proc. R. Soc. b : Biological Sciences DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0002.


Cook, R. M., Holmes, S. J., Fryer, R. J. (2015), Grey seal predation impairs recovery of an over-exploited fish stock. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12439


Whiteside, Mark A., Sage, Rufus & Madden, Joah R.  Diet complexity in early life affects survival in released pheasants by altering foraging efficiency, food choice, handling skills, and gut morphology.  Journal of Animal Ecology.  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12401


Derkzen, Marthe L., van Teeffelen, Astrid J.A. & Verburg, Peter H. Quantifying urban ecosystem services based on high-resolution data of urban green space: an assessment for Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Journal of Applied Ecology DOI:  10.1111/1365-2664.12469


Gregory N. Bratman, Gretchen C. Daily, Benjamin J. Levy, James J. Gross, The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition, Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 138, June 2015, Pages 41-50, ISSN 0169-2046, DOI: /10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.005. 


Ceaușu, S., Hofmann, M., Navarro, L. M., Carver, S., Verburg, P. H. and Pereira, H. M. (2015), Mapping opportunities and challenges for rewilding in Europe. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12533


Hodge, I., Hauck, J. and Bonn, A. (2015), The alignment of agricultural and nature conservation policies in the European Union. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12531


Maiorano, L., Amori, G., Montemaggiori, A., Rondinini, C., Santini, L., Saura, S. and Boitani, L. (2015), On how much biodiversity is covered in Europe by national protected areas and by the Natura 2000 network: insights from terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12535


Batáry, P., Dicks, L. V., Kleijn, D. and Sutherland, W. J. (2015), The role of agri-environment schemes in conservation and environmental management. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12536



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