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


The Lady Descends …. Again – Butterfly Conservation

The UK is braced for a once in a decade influx of Painted Ladies with the potential for millions of the butterflies winging in from southern Europe as part of the longest butterfly migration in the world.

Image: Butterfly ConservationImage: Butterfly Conservation

Unusually high numbers of the orange and black butterflies have been reported amassing in southern Europe at the critical time of the year for them to spread northwards into Britain.

The butterfly is a common immigrant that migrates in varying numbers from the continent to the UK each summer, where its caterpillars feed on thistles.

But around once every ten years the UK experiences a Painted Lady ‘summer’ when millions of the butterflies arrive en masse.

The last mass immigration took place in 2009 when around 11 million Painted Ladies descended widely across the UK with the butterflies spreading into the most northerly parts of Scotland.

Since then the UK has experienced five years with below average numbers but scientists are hopeful that 2015 could be very different.

Painted Ladies are experiencing their best year on the continent since 2009. The offspring of these butterflies could be UK bound imminently.


Game old bird thrives on MOD firing range – Ministry of Defence

A Ministry of Defence training range in South West Wales is home to what is thought to be the oldest chough in the UK.

The chough and two of his fledglings on the rocks at Castlemartin Training Area. (© Copyright Lynne Houlston/Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority)The chough and two of his fledglings on the rocks at Castlemartin Training Area.

(© Copyright Lynne Houlston/Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority)

As members of the crow family, chough typically live for no more than ten years. However one elderly bird at Castlemartin training area in Pembrokeshire has now reached a remarkable 21 years old. RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) records indicate that the previous oldest known chough lived to be 20.

The male bird’s age is known thanks to a metal ring placed on his leg by the Countryside Council for Wales, now Natural Resources Wales. Chough are quite rare in the UK with only about 350 breeding pairs in Great Britain and a further 150 breeding pairs on the Isle of Man.

The RSPB gives chough ‘Amber List’ conservation status due to its small and declining population. The birds are found in some western areas of the British Isles including Cornwall, south west Scotland and the west coast of Ireland.

Living on an active military training area is actually beneficial to many animal and plant species as it reduces the often damaging impact of humans on the landscape and environment.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which manages and maintains land which belongs to the MOD, works to protect wildlife living on its sites. At Castlemartin, this includes imposing seasonal restrictions to prevent climbers from accidently disturbing the chough’s cliff nest sites. This is supported by the British Mountaineering Council and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.


Less salt on our veg, less sheep poo on our starfish – Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Decisions upstream affect our coasts (c) Sacha Dench WWTDecisions upstream affect our coasts (c) Sacha Dench WWT

Sheep on high moorlands affect the UK’s starfish, says the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), and not enough people are thinking about that unlikely connection.

If you remember your water cycle lessons from school, water runs off high ground – taking manure and waste with it – and runs into the sea where it enters the food chain for marine organisms. Hence upland farms have an impact on our coastal waters.

And it works the other way too, with rising sea levels backing up into rivers where it can flood farmland and kill crops that can’t cope with salt water.

Yet this obvious point is often missing from water policy, because marine policy and freshwater policy often sit in different offices – in different organisations even.

WWT is concerned that measures to tackle pollution, flooding and drought in inland freshwaters are looked at in isolation from measures to protect our coastal waters. We might be missing a trick by not appreciating the interrelationships. So we’re inviting the two subject areas together at the 2015 Wetland Futures conference in Birmingham in October.


Second Year of Badger Vaccinations Begin in Derbyshire – Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Male badger eating peanurs (BEVS vaccination)Derbyshire Wildlife Trust began their second year of badger vaccinations, successfully vaccinating over 70% of the badgers at a number of setts on a farm targeted in Edale in the north of the county.

Male badger eating peanuts (BEVS vaccination)

The second season of vaccinations will see the Trust predominantly focusing on land around Edale, in the Peak District National Park, an “edge area” for bovine TB according to the Government where the disease has not yet taken hold.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Debbie Bailey, co-ordinated the vaccination. She said “The dedicated team of volunteers were out battling wind and rain last week, pre-baiting and making sure everything was ready for this week’s vaccination. It is a great feeling to have successfully completed the first one of the year. We have been preparing all winter, training our amazing new volunteers, securing funding and agreeing new vaccination sites but now the hard work really begins.”

The vaccinations are part of a five year programme which focuses on vaccination as an alternative to culling. The Trust began fundraising in 2013 for the programme and in 2014 the Trust exceeded its initial target of £50,000. Then in May 2015 Derbyshire Wildlife Trust announced a £98,600 funding boost from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).


£1.7m National Lottery grant to protect UK’s threatened marine life – Newcastle University

Thousands of ‘citizen scientists’ to be trained to monitor and protect marine life around the UK’s coastline

Image: Newcastle UniversityImage: Newcastle University

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £1.7million to “Capturing our Coast”, a project designed to explore how the marine environment is responding to global climate change.

The project will train over 3,000 volunteers – making it the largest experimental marine citizen science project ever undertaken in the UK.  The volunteers will collect data around key species and it is hoped the new research will help inform future policy and conservation strategies.

The project is led by Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory and involves the universities of Hull, Portsmouth, Bangor and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.  It also involves a number of organisations including the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, the Marine Conservation Society, Earthwatch Institute, the Natural History Museum, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Cefas and the Coastal Partnerships Network.

“Collecting this information about our coastlines is vital if we are to protect them for the future but we can’t do it without the help of the public,” explains project leader Dr Jane Delany, a senior lecturer in the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University. “What this project aims to do is develop a network of citizen scientists who can help us build an accurate picture of marine life all around the UK - a baseline against which we can better understand the impact of climate change and other environmental and human factors.”


Environmental research and innovation hub launches- Keep Britain Tidy

We will be launching our new award winning Centre for Social Innovation on 16 June at the Tomlinson Centre in Hackney, London.

The Centre for Social Innovation is our new research and innovation hub and will build on the work that has taken place over the past two years to develop new approaches to solving the issues that Keep Britain Tidy works on – litter, waste and the quality of local places.

To launch the Centre, we are bringing our partners and leading experts in the field together to share what has been achieved and look at innovations that can help improve communities across the country.

Alongside the event on the same day a new website will launch featuring news, case studies and design tools to help others use and learn from the successful approaches used by the Centre. It will also feature opportunities to get involved in research and solutions alongside Keep Britain Tidy.


England's most iconic landscapes - a hidden economic powerhouse. 'So much more than the view...' – National Parks England

Far from being sleepy backwaters, England's finest landscapes contribute more than £20bn each year to our economy - similar to that of Birmingham, according to a new report. The publication ‘So much more than the view…’ from England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks, highlights the wide range of benefits these iconic areas provide to society.

Covering a quarter of England, National Parks and AONBs are our most beautiful and cherished landscapes, with iconic archaeological and historical sites and valuable wildlife habitats. Yet they provide so much more to society than a beautiful view. More than two thirds of people in England live within half an hour’s travel of a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

AONBs and National Parks welcome more than 260 million visitors who spend in excess of £6bn and support thousands of jobs and more than 85,000 businesses.

Rightly regarded as a treasured national resource and internationally recognised for their special qualities, they provide a base for businesses that rely on a high quality environment; creative and sporting inspiration; homes for people and wildlife; food and drink; and life enhancing experiences for millions of visitors of all ages.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart MP said: “Our British landscapes are among the most beautiful and precious in the world. And such land remains central to the British imagination, to our souls and to our identity. We would miss such landscapes profoundly if they were gone. We have a deep obligation to protect this land, its farms and its communities. This report also reminds us that safeguarding our countryside can also generate economic value, how our protected landscapes are increasingly rare in a rapidly developing world and just how precious they are to visitors and residents. However, while we celebrate the fact that they have also to potential to bring prosperity, we must never reduce such places simply to their economic value – they are so much more than that.”

Chair of National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority, Jim Bailey said: “People are passionate about National Parks and AONBs and care deeply about their future. Those who visit, live or work within, these special landscapes, experience and enjoy the range of benefits that they provide for people and wildlife. They may not realise that these dynamic, living landscapes underpin the economy and the health and wellbeing of society and that all these benefits come at less than £1 per person a year.”

The publication also highlights the vital work that the National Park Authorities, AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards undertake with local people and businesses to help keep these places special.  They work to maintain thriving, living landscapes, where natural assets are conserved and enhanced and where people, businesses and communities can prosper, now and in the future.

Download the full report here (pdf): So much more than the view... England's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks


From farmers to snowboarders, thousands take climate message to Westminster - RSPB

Coastal habitats are one of many under threat from climate change Image: Dave LamacraftThousands of people will come together in Westminster today to ask that their MPs to take a stand in the global fight against climate change.  The biggest ever climate change lobby will bring together Britons from every walk of life – including anglers, bee keepers, snowboarders, surfers, doctors, wildlife enthusiasts, grandparents, nuns, priests and farmers.  All are passionate about different things, but are united in their concern that climate change now poses a grave risk to the things they love.

Coastal habitats are one of many under threat from climate change Image: Dave Lamacraft

Everyone will meet with their constituency MPs face-to-face on the embankment outside Westminster to explain why they want the new Parliament to support national and global efforts to hold back CO2 emissions and build a cleaner economy.  Rickshaws will take MPs to meet their constituents amidst a festival atmosphere.  All of the UK’s 650 MPs have received a request for a meeting with constituents taking part in the lobby, organised by The Climate Coalition. 

Changing weather patterns are already making it harder for the world’s poorest people to grow enough to eat, forcing them into a life of hunger.  Natural habitats, from forests to oceans to river systems, are increasingly struggling to provide for people and wildlife thanks to increasingly extreme weather events and changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. 

This year, global leaders will sign new agreements on climate and sustainable development - agreements that will determine what kind of future we are shaping for our children.

The Climate Coalition wants our politicians to work together across party lines to create a low-carbon infrastructure plan, covering energy and transport and the restoration of nature. This plan should include: 

  • Supporting a fair global climate change agreement that will end carbon pollution from fossil fuels by the middle of the century – critical if we are to keep global temperature rises well below 2 degrees.
  • Making sure the new Sustainable Development Goals agreed in September 2015 respond to the threat of increasing climate change and deliver low-carbon development. 
  • Ending climate pollution from coal use in the UK by 2023, on the way to phasing out carbon from our power system. 
  • Making 2 million of the UK’s low-income homes highly efficient by 2020, and all 6 million low-income homes highly efficient by 2025.


BTO working with EDF Energy to see 'What's Under Your Feet' - BTO

Whats under your Feet?BTO is delighted to announce a new collaboration with EDF Energy, the UK’s largest provider of low carbon energy, to inspire a new generation of scientists. Over the next school year we will be inviting over 20,000 schools who are members of EDF Energy's award winning education programme, the Pod, to find out how climate change, specifically drought, is affecting the abundance of birds across the UK.

Image via BTO

We know little about the distribution of soil invertebrates across Britain or which factors influence their abundance such as climate and soil type. Engaging schools in this project provides an excellent opportunity to answer these questions, and they will be getting their hands dirty in the name of science. By digging randomly selected turf samples from school playing fields, schools can hopefully provide us with the information to help us relate long-term declines in some familiar bird species to climate change.


Get involved with Polli:Nation – Field Studies Council

Polli:Nation is an exciting new project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund. FSC is a partner in this UK-wide biodiversity project to support schools to help protect our dwindling bee population.

All schools in the UK can apply to participate in the programme, which will be delivered by Learning through Landscapes and will enable teachers, children and volunteers to be trained to make the necessary changes to their school grounds to create habitats. They will be supported by biodiversity and landscape experts from the charity to develop their environments by planting insect pollinator friendly areas using pollinator friendly plants, building bug hotels and bee houses, planting night-blooming flowers to draw in moths, constructing bee-hives, as well as promoting changes to maintenance schedules, reducing pesticides and letting areas of the school grounds become wild.

The programme will also promote and encourage the development of existing provisions in schools such as orchards and wild meadow areas, green walls and ivy growth to attract the bees and other insects.

Successful applicants receive:

  • A grant of up to £4000 to help you transform your school grounds to become a haven for pollinating insects;
  • Expert support from LTL’s professional network to help transform the grounds, and transform the learning
  • A wealth of free materials such as wildflower seeds
  • Participation in and resources from a UK wide social science experiment developed for Polli:Nation by scientists at OPAL, with support from leading experts in the ecology and conservation sector.

Learning through Landscapes are developing the Polli:Nation project along with other sector partners including Field Studies Council, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and the OPAL Network.  Applications open on 17th June 2015.


Boom times for bitterns - RSPB

The bittern – a type of heron extinct in the UK at the turn of the 20th Century – is bouncing back to full recovery. Scientists count bitterns by listening for the male’s foghorn-like booming song, and this year over 150 males have been recorded in England and Wales, making it an exceptional year in recent times, with numbers not thought to be surpassed since early in the 19th Century.

Bittern numbers peaked at around 80 booming males in the 1950s, but had declined to only 11 booming males in England in 1997. Concern over a second UK extinction led to a concerted conservation program which is driving the current recovery. The bittern was absent as a breeding bird between the 1870s and 1911.

Simon Wotton is an RSPB conservation scientist. Commenting on the bittern recovery, he said: “In the late 1990s, the bittern was heading towards a second extinction in the UK, largely because its preferred habitat – wet reedbed – was drying out and required intensive management ,restoration and habitat recreation. The bittern is flying high thank to intense conservation efforts Image: John Bridges via RSPBBut thanks to efforts to improve the habitat, combined with significant funding from two projects under the European Union Life Program, the bittern was saved, and we’re delighted that its success keeps going from strength to strength.”

The bittern is flying high thank to intense conservation efforts

Image: John Bridges via RSPB

Over the last 25 years there have been several significant habitat-restoration projects, some of which are now RSPB nature reserves, including:

  • Ham Wall, in Somerset, which was created from old peat workings from 1995.  The bittern has been booming regularly from 2008 with first nesting in that year.  In 2015, 17 boomers have been recorded at the site.
  • Lakenheath, in Suffolk. This wetland site was converted from carrot fields from 1995. Bitterns were first recorded booming here in 2006 and the first confirmed nesting was recorded in 2009.  This year six booming males are being recorded on site.
  • Ouse Fen, in Cambridgeshire. This partnership project with Hanson has seen wetland creation from former mineral workings, which started around 10 years ago.  In time, it will be the largest reedbed in the UK. The first confirmed booming was in 2012, with 10 recorded in 2015.

According to this year’s figures, the top UK county for bitterns is Somerset, with over 40 booming males. Following the restoration and extensive creation of large wetlands in the Avalon Marshes, at Ham Wall (RSPB), Shapwick Heath (Natural England) and Westhay Moor (Somerset Wildlife Trust), bitterns became re-established in Somerset in 2008.

East Anglia with over 80 booming male bitterns remains the bittern's regional stronghold in the UK, particularly in traditional sites on the Suffolk Coast, and in the Norfolk Broads but also increasingly in the Fens, particularly at newly-created habitat.

Over half (over 59 per cent) of the booming males are on sites protected under international law, namely the European Union’s Birds and Habitat’s Directives.


Peatland Action receives extra £3million - SNH

An ambitious project which has helped drive major restorative works at 100 peatland sites has received an extra £3million funding, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) confirmed today.

The Peatland Action Project is an SNH-led initiative. And the funding from the Scottish Government is a boost to the £5million already invested in helping preserve our valuable peatlands.

It will enable SNH to continue this work with partners including National Park Authorities; Forest Enterprise Scotland; RSPB, SWT, Moorland Forum; Scottish Water; IUCN; Tweed Forum, and the Crichton Carbon Centre. SNH is the main advisor to the Scottish Government on peatland restoration and was originally allocated £5 million to fund:

A total area of 5580 hectares (21 square miles) has seen restoration at locations across Scotland including exposed upland blanket peat, forest to bog conversion, and lowland bogs close to urban areas and farmland.

Peatland Action has also funded monitoring and surveys which include more than 148 square miles (38,360 hectares) to help pave the way for future peatland restoration.

Andrew McBride, SNH’s Peatland Action project manager, said: “We need healthy peatlands far more than you might think. Restoring peatlands reduces carbon emissions, and healthy peatlands provide a wealth of benefits to people. They help regulate water flows by regulating and slowing run-off during heavy rainfall events. This reduces downstream flooding. But they also maintain base flows in our upland streams during drought. And we know that water flowing through healthy peatlands supports drinking water sources, industry and fisheries. Land managers who have worked with us to restore their peatlands have found that the restoration does not only visually improve the landscape but also has additional benefits to access and fisheries. So now we have a further opportunity for land managers to do more peatland restoration this year. And healthy peatlands are vital to our health and well-being, our economy, our rural sector, and indeed our urban centres. We need peatlands to be fully fit and functioning to provide the base for those vital life services.”

Peatland Action has also worked closely with the forestry sector across Scotland. More than 1000 hectares of peat bog habitat either restored (trees cut down, drains blocked) or enhanced (drain blocking only on existing open ground) by Forest Enterprise Scotland.


Changes to onshore wind subsidies protect investment and get the best deal for bill payers - DECC

The Government intends to end new public subsidies for onshore wind farms by legislating to close the Renewables Obligation across Great Britain to new onshore wind generating stations from 1 April 2016.

Up to 5.2GW of onshore wind capacity could be eligible for grace periods which the Government is minded to offer to projects that already have planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, as well as evidence of land rights.

In 2014, over £800m of Government subsidies helped onshore wind to generate 5% of the UK’s total electricity, with the high volume of onshore wind either deployed or in the pipeline meaning that the UK is well on the way to meeting its climate change targets.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We have a long-term plan to keep the lights on and our homes warm, power the economy with cleaner energy, and keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families. As part of our plan, we are committed to cutting our carbon emissions by fostering enterprise, competition, opportunity and growth. We want to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance on public subsidies. So we are driving forward our commitment to end new onshore wind subsidies and give local communities the final say over any new windfarms. Onshore wind is an important part of our energy mix and we now have enough subsidised projects in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments”.


End of onshore subsidies ‘regrettable’ – Scottish Government

The decision taken by the UK Government to end support for the onshore wind sector, provided via the Renewables Obligation, will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland, said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.

Mr Ewing said:  “The decision by the UK Government to end the Renewables Obligation next year is deeply regrettable and will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland as around 70 per cent of onshore wind projects in the UK planning system are here. This announcement goes further than what had been previously indicated. It is not the scrapping of a ‘new’ subsidy that was promised but a reduction of an existing regime - and one under which companies and communities have already planned investment. Onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options, as well the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change, which means it should be the last one to be scrapped, curtailed or restricted. The UK Government has ignored the concerns of businesses and organisations who are integral to the future energy security of both Scotland and the UK, as well as to environmental organisations who recognise the importance of renewable energy in helping reduce emissions. The UK Government have chosen to place at risk a huge investment pipeline, conceived in good faith by developers based on statements from the UK Government. The decision will cause huge uncertainty for investors not just in onshore but across the renewables sector as a whole - especially as there is no information as to other onshore wind schemes under Electricity Market Reform Contracts for Difference or those smaller than 5 MW under the Feed in Tariff. Moreover, the decision will prevent onshore schemes proceeding whilst offshore wind will go ahead despite receiving far more generous subsidies. This, the industry claim, will lead to extra costs for consumers of possibly around £2-3 billion.; and must be irrational in that respect. Therefore we have warned the UK Government that the decision, which appears irrational, may well be the subject of a Judicial Review. The Scottish Government remains ambitious for the renewable energy industry and aims to maximise the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change. We will continue to work together with the industry as we continue to support the growth of renewables in Scotland. 


Trust comments on end of onshore wind farm subsidies – John Muir Trust

Govt cuts wind subsidies - Friends of the Earth reaction


Rare dormice re-introduced to Midlands wood - PTES

People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is releasing rare hazel dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) into an undisclosed woodland location in Nottinghamshire in an attempt to stem the further decline of the species.

Dormice were once widespread throughout much of England and Wales, but over the past 100 years, their range and population has diminished significantly due to the loss of woodlands and hedgerows, as well as traditional habitat management practices, and the species is now rare and vulnerable to extinction.

PTES has worked in consultation with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust to carefully select this year’s location for the reintroduction of the twenty breeding pairs, clustering it closely with the sites of two previously successful releases in 2013 and 2014.

Hazel Dormice image via PTESIan White, Dormouse Officer at PTES explains: “Woodland and hedgerows will be improved between the three reintroduction sites, so that as the separate dormouse populations establish themselves in their respective woodlands, they will later have the opportunity to disperse and eventually join up. This will improve chances for the long-term survival of the species.”

The dormice that will be released have been captive bred through the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group. Prior to release, they undergo thorough checks with vets at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Paignton Zoo in Devon to make sure they are healthy and have the best chance of survival.

Hazel Dormice image via PTES

Following the health checks, the dormice are then released on-site in breeding pairs in their own wooden nest box fitted inside a mesh cage secured to trees. The mesh cages, filled with food and water, help the dormice adjust to their new home in the wild. The cages are eventually removed once the animals have settled into the wood.

The reintroductions play an important role in the long-term conservation of this endangered species and are part of the Species Recovery Programme supported by Natural England.


Black Devon Wetlands named RSPB Scotland's newest nature reserve – RSPB Scotland

Snipe Image: Graham Catley via RSPBA tranquil area of wetland and grassland on the south-eastern edge of Alloa has become RSPB Scotland’s newest nature reserve, and the charity’s first in Clackmannanshire.

Black Devon Wetlands, which is popular with walkers, is also a special place for birds and wildlife, such as snipe, short-eared owls, teals and black-headed gulls.

Snipe Image: Graham Catley via RSPB

Work to improve the various habitats at the site has already started, with much more planned for the next few months. Visitors are also set to benefit from new paths, viewing areas and signage, and a series of events will be advertised in the near future.

RSPB Scotland’s Anne McCall, who’s the Regional Director for South and West Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be taking on the management of the Black Devon Wetlands and we hope to transform it into a reserve that will not only help wildlife, but also provide local people with a great nature experience right on their doorstep. The Inner Forth is internationally recognised as an important place for birds, and the establishment of this reserve adds to a wider mosaic of habitats that are beneficial for a whole range of different species, as part of the RSPB’s landscape-scale project, the Inner Forth Futurescape.”

Black Devon Wetlands were originally created when soil was excavated from the site to cap an adjacent area of landfill. Its managed lagoons were first formed by Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust, and these were then extended in the mid 2000s by the council’s landfill project.


Changing face of modern forestry – Forestry Commission Scotland

Public sector forestry is benefiting from a new driving force with four top jobs now being held by women.  For the first time, women are now in leading forestry roles in both Forestry Commission Scotland and at the Scottish Government.
In an industry traditionally managed by men, the new team demonstrates that this is now changing, and exemplifies the public sector commitment to achieving greater diversity in workplace at a senior level in Scotland. However, there is still a long way to go – for example, only 30 percent of the current 1,000 Forestry Commission Scotland staff is female, and just 24 per cent of managers.
To help ensure that the forestry sector is able to draw on the widest pool of talent, the Commission has also allocated a further £300,000 towards a skills programme that includes hands-on forestry training for young women.  This programme has already trained up 82 women and the extra funding will support another 20 female trainees.
Head of Forestry Commission Scotland, Jo O’Hara added: “We are keen for more women to have a career in forestry and while we still have a way to go in balancing the equality gap, we are moving in the right direction.  Nearly half of the Commission’s Management Board are women and we also have strong female representation on our National Committee, which oversees our work. There are also many women working at all levels in the Commission. It’s a fantastic profession with a wide range of work. In my career I have managed multi-million tree planting programmes, designed forests, worked on IT development, managed corporate programmes, advised Ministers and travelled all over the world. It just goes to show what’s possible and I hope my career acts as a motivator to other women interested in taking up or furthering their prospects in the forestry sector.”
The Forestry Commission’s Graduate Programme has been particularly successful in attracting women, as more than 50% of current graduates are female. The Commission has also recruited 22 female modern apprentices to date. This year, Lesley Stalker, an apprentice working with Forestry Commission Scotland, was awarded the prestigious Lantra Learner of the Year award.

£1.3 million in new research could mean a sweeter deal for Scottish berry producers - Defra

Three pioneering UK government funded research projects could mean British berry lovers get their favourite fruits all year round.

British berry lovers could get their favourite fruits all year round thanks to three new pioneering UK government funded research projects set to revolutionise Scottish berry production, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said ahead of the Royal Highland Show.

£1.3 million from the government’s £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst has been awarded to projects led by the James Hutton Institute and James Hutton Limited, both based in Dundee, to help Scottish producers meet the growing demand for home grown berries.

The projects will use the latest advancements in understanding plant genetics to identify traits in raspberries that make them more resilient to pests and diseases, and in blueberries, traits that are better adapted to growing in Scotland’s cooler climate.

The super-resilient berries could mean a sweeter deal for Scottish growers exhibiting at today’s show by boosting berry yields and extending the UK’s berry growing season, allowing consumers to buy their punnets all year round, and enabling Scottish producers to cash in on the huge demand for blueberries.

Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss said: 'Scottish berries are up there with Scottish beef and lamb as a top quality UK product and this research will only enhance our reputation for producing good food both here and abroad. These projects demonstrate that by investing in the most cutting-edge techniques, and working collaboratively across the UK to raise standards, we can boost productivity and help more Scottish and UK producers to compete in international markets.'

Berries are the latest in a long list of export successes for the UK, with exports trebling from £1.8 million in 2012 to £5.3 million in 2014. A combination of dry summers, fertile soils and better protection has seen strawberry and raspberry production in Scotland double over the past 10 years. In 2014, 25,000 tonnes of strawberries and 3,000 tonnes of raspberries were produced, contributing £81 million to the UK’s growing soft fruit sector, worth an estimated £351 million.


Scientific Publications

Davies, Thomas W.,  Duffy, James P., Bennie, Jon, Gaston, Kevin J.  Stemming the tide of light pollution encroaching into Marine Protected Areas. Conservation Letters

DOI:  10.1111/conl.12191


Scott Gooch , Kate Ashbrook , Andrew Taylor , Tamás Székely Using dietary analysis and habitat selection to inform conservation management of reintroduced Great Bustards Otis tarda in an agricultural landscape. Bird Study DOI:10.1080/00063657.2015.1050993


Chiara Piroddi, et al, Using ecological models to assess ecosystem status in support of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Ecological Indicators, Volume 58, November 2015, Pages 175-191, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: /10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.05.037.


Eleanor M. Caves, Martin Stevens, Edwin S. Iversen, Claire N. Spottiswoode Hosts of avian brood parasites have evolved egg signatures with elevated information content Royal Society Proceedings: biological sciences DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0598


Scheper, Jeroen et al Local and landscape-level floral resources explain effects of wildflower strips on wild bees across four European countries. Journal of Applied Ecology  DOI:  10.1111/1365-2664.12479


Dadvanda, P. et al (2015) Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1503402112


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