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


Making a B-Line in the West of England for National Pollinator Week – Avon Wildlife Trust

Image credit: Jon Hawkins

Image credit: Jon Hawkins

At the start of National Pollinator Week Buglife and Avon Wildlife Trust are pleased to announce the successful restoration of the first 100 acres of wildflower-rich grassland via the West of England B-Lines project. By connecting our best wildlife sites, the project is helping to boost populations of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Clare Dinham, Buglife Conservation Officer, said “Bees and other pollinators are disappearing from our countryside because we have lost 97% of the UK's wildflower-rich grasslands since 1945. By creating B-Lines we can help wildlife move across our countryside, saving threatened species and making sure that there are plenty of pollinators out there to help crops grow.”

The West of England B-Lines project aims to create rivers of wildflowers across the countryside from the Cotswolds to the Mendips, from the coast to the hills, and from our towns and cities to the countryside. The project has been working with farmers, landowners and the public to create and restore wildflower-rich grasslands and put the buzz back into our countryside.


Four free to download moorland-themed apps launched - Moors for the Future

Four new free apps launched Image: Moors for the FutureDiscovering more about the beautiful moorland landscape, its wildlife and vegetation is now much easier thanks to four new free smartphone apps.

Image: Moors for the Future

The apps are the first moorland-themed identification guides that have been created to help visitors learn about the uniqueness, beauty and importance of the Peak District National Park and South Pennine moors.

The free apps provide a useful field guide looking at plants, moss, wildlife and some of the landscape features found on moorland.

Available to download on iOS and Android, on smartphones and tablets, or even as a printable pdf, the new apps have been created as part of the Moors for the Future Partnership’s MoorLIFE project.

MoorMOSS, MoorPLANTS, MoorSIGHTS and MoorWILD have been designed with the Peak District and South Pennines in mind, but will be useful on moorlands across the UK.

The Apps have been developed in conjunction with Natural Apptitude. Director David Kilbey said: "We're interested in building apps and contributing to projects that both help the environment and enrich people's experience of it. The four apps that we produced with Moors for the Future really met these objectives and provide a fantastic resource for people wanting to learn more about the fascinating and beautiful Peak District National Park."


Redrawing the Essex shoreline to give coastal nature a home - RSPB

A landmark environmental project made possible due to a unique partnership between Crossrail and the RSPB reached a significant milestone this weekend.

Wallasea Island Wild Coast project, located eight miles north of Southend-on-Sea in Essex, aims to transform 670 hectares of farmland, an area about 2.5 times the size of the City of London, back into the coastal marshland it once was some 400 years ago.

Over three million tonnes of excavated material from Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, Crossrail, has been used to raise part of the island by an average of 1.5 m, creating lagoons and other wildlife-friendly features and protecting these areas with new sea-walls.

Sea wall breached. This weekend (11 July), the first phase of the project was completed when the new sea walls of 'Cell 1' were successfully breached to allow for tidal flow into the marshland.


Protecting native amphibians from invasive disease – Freshwater Habitats Trust

A newly-discovered species of chytrid fungal disease that can infect and kill a wide range of newts and salamanders has become established in a few wild amphibian populations in parts of Europe.

The fungus, called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (B.sal), is causing devastating population declines. It is thought to be spread internationally by the amphibian trade and unless all concerned (pet traders, scientists and amphibian keepers) take great care and apply some simple biosecurity measures, there is a risk that it could be introduced to captive and wild amphibian populations elsewhere in Europe. It has already been found in captive newts and salamanders in the UK.


Pupils learn using conservation techniques – Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Image: Conservation Explorers from Sacred Heart School, WWTPupils are trying out research techniques used to study endangered birds for the first time in an innovative new learning session.

Pupils from Sacred Heart School, Camberwell were among the first to take part in Conservation Explorers, which is being trialled at WWT London Wetland Centre.

Image: Conservation Explorers from Sacred Heart School, WWT

Conservation Explorers is an investigative activity for Key Stages 2 and 3 (ages 7-14) that allows learners to be conservation scientists for the day. Pupils carry out tasks including measuring birds’ preening rates and using digital photography to help identify and count species on the wetlands.

The pupils carry a GPS device which tracks their route around the wetland centre. They then upload their research results to specific points on their track via a bespoke website, which provides content for further sessions once they’ve returned to school.


Wildlife Charity’s concerns of Osbournes automatic planning permission - Buglife

Image: BuglifeBuglife are seriously concerned over George Osbourne’s latest announcement of plans to grant automatic planning permission on brownfield land.

Image: Buglife

Whilst large a proportion of brownfield land does provide ideal opportunity for sustainable redevelopment, a small proportion of sites support some of the UK’s most rare and endangered wildlife especially bugs! Brownfield land in the Thames Gateway supports nationally important populations of Shrill carder bees, Streaked bombardier beetles and Distinguished jumping spiders. In fact some of these bugs are found nowhere else! Without brownfield sites these species could become be lost. According to the Natural England inventory of Open Mosaic Habitat on Previously Developed Land around 8% of brownfield land in England is thought to be of ‘high environmental value’ as defined in recently published guidance.


Call for summer beachcombers to hunt for skate egg cases – Scottish Natural Heritage

Walkers, divers and fishermen in Argyll are being asked to report sightings of common skate egg cases, to help Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) learn more about where the huge fish are breeding.

The call for information comes after a Marine Protected Area (MPA) for common skate was put in place last year between Loch Sunart and the Sound of Jura. The west coast of Scotland and Orkney appear to be the last strongholds for the critically endangered fish in the UK.

As its name suggests, the common skate was once widely distributed and was an important part of the inshore commercial fishery. However the numbers of skate have fallen dramatically in most coastal areas of the UK and it is now classed as critically endangered.

Living in deep, dark water, common skate grow to up to 3m in length, live for up to 100 years and weigh over 15 stone. They are the largest species of skate in Europe and research shows that although most fish move only small distances, they can swim for more than 200 km.

Jane Dodd, SNH marine operations officer said: “We’d like everyone in Argyll to look out for skate egg cases, particularly people going to the beach over the summer holidays. And if you are a diver and remember seeing them on a dive please scour your log book and let us know where, when and how many you saw - even if you can only give us approximate dates and locations this might help us solve the mystery of when and where skate lay their eggs."


Additional funding for endangered species – North York Moors National Park

Work to safeguard Yorkshire’s last remaining population of freshwater pearl mussels (FPM) has been given a helping hand in the shape of a £300,000 grant from Biffa Award. The grant forms part of a larger £1.5million Biffa Award project led by the Freshwater Biological Association that will also see river restoration carried out in a number of FPM catchments in Cumbria and Devon.

Gillian French, Biffa Award Programme Manager said: “This project is an exciting opportunity to save one of the most long-lived animals from extinction; the freshwater pearl mussel can live for more than 100 years and is internationally protected”.

The new project will run from 2015 to 2018 and, in Yorkshire, will focus on the river Esk in the North York Moors National Park. The river Esk is the only river in Yorkshire with a FPM population. The population is estimated to be approximately 1,000 individuals and is in drastic decline. Pollution and sediment build up, decline in fish populations and habitat degradation are all reasons for their decline.

Sharing knowledge and best practice with landowners, the local community and other conservation groups will be a key element of the new project on the river Esk. In addition, volunteer groups and angling clubs will take part in monitoring and restoration work, including the planting of trees along the river bank, removing non-native invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam and sampling invertebrate life throughout the river. The funding will also help sponsor a Master of Research degree at Durham University, which will look at water quality throughout the catchment.

Simon Hirst, River Esk Project Officer at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for people from a number of different backgrounds to get involved in the conservation of a rare and valuable species. They may not be cute and cuddly but FPM is an important indicator species; if we get conditions right for them, it will have positive knock on benefits for a range of other wildlife such as otters, Atlantic salmon, dippers and kingfishers.”

As well as working with farmers to reduce sediment and nutrient input into the Esk, the project will focus on improving the reproductive success of FPM through the Freshwater Biological Association’s captive breeding programme. In 2007, mussels from the Esk were taken to an ‘ark’ facility in the Lake District which houses and breeds populations from threatened FPM rivers in England. By 2018, it is hoped that sections of the Esk will have been restored and suitable habitat will be available which can accommodate the return of juvenile mussels.


Pine marten in Shropshire! - Shropshire Wildlife Trust

First confirmed sighting of a pine marten in England for a century. There have been rumours of pine martens in England on and off for years. Most of these, on close enquiry, have proved to be domestic cats, mink and even black squirrels. A sighting in Staffordshire in 2007 was almost certainly an escapee from a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

Last week, an amateur photographer and wildlife recorder sent two photographs to Shropshire Wildlife Trust which sent a wave of excitement through the charity – and to Stuart Edmunds, Communications Officer, in particular.

For the past five years, Stuart has been running the Shropshire Pine Marten project, following up sightings, mostly from the Shropshire Hills area, where there is plenty of forest cover and low human population density. So far, all the reports have been either unverifiable or cases of mistaken identification. But Stuart remained convinced that one day, conclusive evidence would emerge of the presence of pine martens.

So when Dave Pearce sent his photos through to him, Stuart was thrilled to bits. Here at last, was photographic evidence of a pine marten in Shropshire. He spent the weekend checking Pearce’s location details, matching moss and twig patterns in the photo against the actual site of the recording. “This is incredibly exciting,” says Stuart. “Pine martens were thought to be extinct in England and there is now a possibility that they may have been living here right under our noses for a long time”.

There is a thriving population of at least 4,000 pine martens in Scotland and they are known to exist in Wales in small numbers in Snowdonia and mid Wales. These creatures are very mobile, easily travelling 20km in a day. Pine martens are also highly territorial, with bigger ones pushing out younger, smaller ones so they need to travel to set up new territories. Very likely, the Shropshire marten has come from Wales.


New charity seeks the mass restoration of Britain’s wildlife – Rewilding Britain

A new organisation, the first of its kind in Britain, is launching along with its new website on Tuesday. Rewilding Britain is looking to bring back missing species, allow native forests to grow once more on the hills, let rivers run wild and help parts of the sea recover from industrial fishing.

It will seek to restore species that used to live here but have since become extinct or very rare. These include beavers, wild boar, bison, cranes, pelicans, sturgeon, bluefin tuna, lynx and eventually wolves, grey whales, humpbacks and sperm whales. Rewilding Britain hopes to establish at least three core areas of rewilded land by 2030, which means, in each case, 100,000 hectares or more.

Rebecca Wrigley, programme manager for Rewilding Britain, said: “An important part of our work will be to inspire and inform, and build a wider movement for rewilding. Rewilding projects on the ground will be locally owned and locally run. Our new website features a selection of fantastic rewilding projects that are already up and running across Britain. We hope we can gather a groundswell of support. We want to amplify the message that some pioneers have been putting out for decades, and attract new support. Rewilding is really for everyone who cares about our future. Our ecosystems need us.”


Wildlife in built-up areas: an undervalued part of our urban ecosystems – University of Lincoln

Urban wildlife such as deer, foxes and badgers should be cherished for the ecological benefits they bring to towns and cities, rather than feared as potentially harmful pests, scientists argue in a new report.
The review, published in the scientific journal Wildlife Research, states that in order for humans and animals to live successfully side-by-side in built-up areas, a cultural shift is required for the public to fully appreciate the integral role that wildlife performs in urban ecosystems.
Much of the public dialogue about larger urban wildlife currently focuses on the risk of disease, pollution and threat to property or pets, rather than the positive contribution these animals can make.
Lead author Dr Carl Soulsbury, a conservation biologist based in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, UK, said: “While promoting education about urban wildlife and its risks is important, the benefit wildlife brings to urban areas is often poorly communicated. It includes benefits such as regulating and supporting the ecosystem, through to improving human health and wellbeing. We need to identify ways to maximise the benefits, in particular increasing the accessibility of natural green spaces and promoting interactions with wildlife as a form of nature-based therapy. It is only through such an integrative approach that we can advance our understanding of how to live successfully alongside wildlife in an increasingly urbanised world.”
The researchers detail how urban wildlife can provide a range of benefits to human health and quality of life which are often undervalued or overlooked. For instance, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates the presence and viewing of urban wildlife is beneficial for human mental health and psychological wellbeing. Urban animals also regulate and support the ecosystems of towns and cities. Many creatures serve as important predators of pest species – for example, songbirds help to control insect populations and predatory birds help rodent control. But as urban human populations continue to grow, so too does the chance of ‘human-wildlife’ conflict, the researchers warn.


Bee disease confirmed – Scottish Government

American foulbrood detected in apiary near Alyth Perthshire.

An outbreak of American foulbrood (AFB), a disease affecting colonies of honeybees, has been found in an apiary near Alyth, Perthshire. The disease was confirmed today following laboratory diagnosis by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

The AFB infected hives are being destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK. There are no risks to public health from AFB and no implications for the quality and safety of honey. The movement of bees and related equipment into, or out of, the affected apiary are under specific controls supervised by Scottish Government Bee Inspectors and include enhanced biosecurity measures and increased vigilance in the area.

Bee farmers and beekeepers are being urged to be vigilant for signs of the disease, to maintain good husbandry practices and to notify any suspicion of disease to BeesMailbox@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Classic signs of the disease are sunken cappings on cells, which when uncapped reveal dead larvae in various stages of decomposition. The larvae have a caramel like, light to dark brown consistency and when drawn out, the decomposing material strings out rather than snapping off - the roppiness test


Welsh Government to revolutionise Rural Communities – Welsh Government

Plans to use more than £900m to transform rural Wales will be unveiled today by the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans.

The Deputy Minister will launch Welsh Government Rural Communities – Wales’ new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 - and open four new schemes, together worth close to £30m.

Welsh Government Rural Communities will focus the significant investment from Welsh Government and the European Union to revitalise communities, protect our natural resources, tackle climate change and stimulate growth and create jobs across the country.
Rebecca Evans said, "In Wales we have the highest proportion of people living in rural areas in the UK, and Welsh Government Rural Communities is perfectly placed to help them thrive. These funds have previously provided huge support to rural communities and agricultural businesses, but it is vital we strive to do more. Welsh Government Rural Communities, including the schemes I am announcing today, highlight the kind of opportunities we can create right across Wales – stimulating rural economies and increasing job opportunities to make a lasting difference to the lives of people in Wales. What we do today must be with a view to maximising the enormous opportunities there are in rural Wales, for the good of our future generations.'


Government defines Protected Areas for shale developments - DECC

Areas to be excluded from underground fracking activities have been set out by the Government today, through draft regulations that define the protected areas in which fracking will be prohibited.

The draft regulations set out further protections for groundwater and National Parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Broads and World Heritage Sites, ensuring the process of hydraulic fracturing can only take place below 1200 metres in these areas. Drinking water is not normally found below 400m.

Ministers also set out their clear commitment to ensure that fracking cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled in the surface of National Parks and other protected areas in such a way as to not impact on conventional drilling operations. More details on this will follow shortly. 


Industry kick-starts work on Great British Food and Farming Plan - Defra

Eighty leading representatives from the UK food and farming industry will help develop a long-term plan for the future of food and farming at a meeting with Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss today.

The industry-led 25-year plan will up the country’s ambitions for food and farming, setting out how we can grow more, buy more and sell more British food. Today’s event kick-starts the plan’s development, discussing ways to promote a British brand, grow exports, improve skills, attract high-flyers and harness data and technology so the industry can innovate, grow and create jobs.

Speaking ahead of the event, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: 'We are hugely ambitious for the future of food and farming and its potential to drive growth—that’s why we are bringing together industry to set out a vision for the future with a long-term plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food. This event is the first step to make our ambition a reality. Our food and farming industry is already an economic powerhouse, worth over £100 billion a year and supporting one in eight jobs. By championing the latest technology, building skills and creating jobs and apprenticeships we will create a stronger brand for British food and drink that will see our quality produce enjoyed at home and exported around the globe.'


Swift call to action – North Wales Wildlife Trust

Swifts are migratory birds that travel to North Wales every summer from Africa to nest in holes in buildings, but their population has declined by nearly 60% in the last 20 years. North Wales Wildlife Trust have now decided to help swifts with a new project, and are calling for the public to join in.

“Swifts are truly amazing creatures” according to People and Wildlife Officer Ben Stammers: “Amongst the fastest birds in the world, they spend almost all their time in the air, and clock up literally millions of miles over their lifetimes. Their decline might be to do with fewer insects being around, but it’s also because there aren’t as many places for them to nest as there were.”

The Wildlife Trust has been trying to address this by providing special swift nest boxes in the area. “We’ve put up 30 boxes so far” said Ben, “working with North Wales Housing Association, the Church in Wales, Holyhead Port, Bangor University, Bethesda Surgery, Plas Ffrancon Leisure Centre, and local schools, who’ve all kindly agreed to host boxes on their buildings. Gwynedd Council Street Lighting Department also helped with high-access installation work.”

Now Ben wants to gather local information about nest-sites. As he explained, “We really need help from anyone who thinks they’ve seen swift nesting behaviour. That means birds flying around buildings in small groups making screaming calls, or actually entering under eaves.”


Three is the magic number for Lakenheath cranes: rare birds fledge three young in best year yet at reserve - RSPB

Staff and volunteers at RSPB Lakenheath Fen nature reserve, on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, are celebrating the best breeding season to date for the two pairs of cranes that nest on the reserve. Three young cranes have fledged at the fenland reserve, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.

The parent cranes, which stand five foot tall and have an eight foot wingspan, have been resident on the reserve since 2007. One of the pairs made history in 2009, when they fledged the first young crane chick in the Fens for over 400 years. Since then, a further four chicks have fledged on the reserve. In 2012, both pairs fledged young in the same year for the first time ever.

Cranes are large, elegant birds that breed in wetlands through Northern Europe and Asia, similar in size and appearance to grey herons. They have “Amber” conservation status in the UK due to the very small number of cranes breeding or wintering here.

Last year there were just 25 pairs of cranes nesting in the whole of the UK, and the Fen population, which also includes birds nesting at RSPB Nene Washes, east of Peterborough, forms a significant proportion of the British nesting population.

At Lakenheath Fen, one pair fledged twins on 6 July, with the second pair fledging a single youngster on 12 July. As well as being the first season that three young have fledged on the reserve, it is also the first time that twins have fledged on the reserve.


Sir David Attenborough is calling on the public to help reverse butterfly declines by planting nectar sources for pollinating insects in their gardens. – Butterfly Conservation

Launching citizen science project – the Big Butterfly Count, the Butterfly Conservation President declared that everybody could play a part in reversing the declines of butterflies and other wildlife.

To give butterflies a helping hand during the Count and throughout the rest of the season, Sir David is calling on nature lovers to plant pots in their gardens or window ledges with nectar sources such as Catmint, Lavender, Cranesbill, Oregano and Echinacea. These plants will attract Red Admirals, Brimstone, Green-veined Whites and other widespread species providing the food required by butterflies, moths, bees and other pollinating insects.

Sir David said: “The UK’s butterflies really need your help this summer. Three-quarters are in decline and one-third in danger of extinction. The ongoing and alarming loss of their habitat is a major and worrying factor in their falling numbers. But by taking one simple step you can help to reverse this loss. Plant a few pots in your garden or on your window ledge with the right plants and you can provide butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects with a lifeline of food and shelter. It’s up to every single one of us to make sure that the spectacle of mid-summer butterflies remains a much anticipated highlight of the season rather than becoming a long-mourned memory. Make yours a butterfly summer by getting out for the Count.”

Nature lovers are also being asked to look out for Painted Lady butterflies that are currently experiencing their largest immigration into the UK since 2009 when millions arrived from the continent. Last year’s Big Butterfly Count revealed that the Small Tortoiseshell was continuing its fight back after years of decline. The butterfly, whose population has plummeted by 78% since the 1970s, saw numbers rise by almost a quarter compared to the summer of 2013 making it the fourth most commonly seen Big Butterfly Count species - its highest ever ranking.

The Count runs from 17 July to 9 August. Taking part in the Count is easy - find a sunny place and spend just 15 minutes counting every butterfly seen and then submit sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org


Research delivers new tools for understanding why Britain’s bird populations are in decline - BTO

image via BTOResearchers at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) have delivered a powerful new tool which will help target conservation efforts to support declining populations of woodland and farmland bird species. The tool, which applies a new approach to the analysis of data collected by volunteer birdwatchers through the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), increases the value of the ‘wild bird indicators’ used to monitor bird communities in different regions and habitats.

image via BTO

The countryside is continually changing, affecting the wildlife around us. One of the ways in which the impacts of this change are monitored is through networks of dedicated volunteers, who use standardised methods to survey the same locations year-on-year. The results of these surveys are summarised by biodiversity indicators, including the farmland bird indicator and woodland bird indicator, both of which provide a mechanism by which the success of conservation efforts and policy decisions can be measured.

The national-scale declines seen in the farmland bird indicator (now at 45% of the 1970s baseline) and woodland bird indicator (now at 72% of the 1970s baseline) mask significant regional and habitat-based variation in the patterns seen. This hidden variation is likely to be important, potentially revealing the underlying mechanisms driving the population changes that we are seeing. By using new statistical approaches, BTO researchers have for the first time been able to reveal these all-important patterns.

Using data from the BTO/RSPB/JNCC Breeding Bird Survey (spanning 1995-2008), BTO researchers looked at woodland and farmland bird communities – each of which was split into ‘generalist species’ and ‘specialist species’. The results revealed that while farmland bird populations declined nationally by 11% over the period 1995 to 2008, these losses were substantially more extreme in south-east England, where the losses were being driven by declines in farmland specialists like Linnet, Skylark, Starling and Yellowhammer.


Walkers disturb birds more than shooters – study finds - BASC

Interim results from a study at Bournemouth University show that walkers disturb waterfowl more regularly than wildfowling.

The ongoing study, commissioned by BASC, is measuring the relative potential impacts of a variety of activities, including dog walking and wildfowling in Poole Harbour. Research into the disturbance of wild birds is important because estuaries, such as the one at Poole Harbour, provide essential habitat for many species of waterbirds, such as godwits, wigeon, teal and avocets.

Previous studies, such as those by Footprint Ecology, have found that walkers and dog-walkers account for around two thirds of all recreational activity on estuaries. The importance of this research lies in informing conservation managers and statutory agencies of the relative impact of particular activities, so that informed and proportionate decisions can be made when regulating individual sites.

Final results from the study are expected around the end of 2015.


We are delighted that Bodmin Moor is to have a Commons Council – Open Spaces Society

Bodmin Moor image via Open Spaces SocietyThe society is delighted that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has resolved to set up a commons council backing a plan to create a commons council for Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

There was a public consultation in March and April, and the environment secretary had to be satisfied that there was ‘substantial support’ for the plan. In fact, there was an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote, with 195 out of 202 respondents in favour (96 per cent).

Bodmin Moor image via Open Spaces Society

This will be the second commons council created under the Commons Act 2006 in England—the first was established for the Brendon Hills in Devon in April 2014.

The council will provide a democratic management structure for the 71 commons registration units on Bodmin Moor. It will authorise those with rights of common to take majority decisions on agricultural matters. This will enable the commons to benefit from environmental stewardship payments. The model for commons councils is based on the pioneering Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, established under the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985.

The legal order for the council will come into force on 1 September2015. Then members must be elected to the council, which will come into being on 1 March 2016.


Construction industry building a future without deforestation – but many businesses have further to go - WWF

The construction industry has come out as a clear leader in a new WWF-UK timber scorecard published today.

The scorecard looks at companies’ practices and policies in relation to sustainably sourced timber and timber products, against a backdrop of increasing deforestation. Helpfully, the scoring process has raised awareness with companies of the perils of forest destruction, which leads to habitat loss and contributes to climate change.
Recent WWF-UK research shows that consumers do care about the type of timber used and where it’s from, but they are left wanting; information for consumers around buying products made from sustainable timber is far less available than that on animal welfare in food, or fair trade coffee and chocolate.
Julia Young of WWF-UK’s forest team explains that “as with many agricultural products such as meat or eggs it is just as important to know where our timber products are coming from. If we don’t then UK consumers could be contributing to deforestation.”
The scorecard shows, however, that change is possible, and that many household names are making progress on using sustainable timber. Julia adds: “Some are in fact making great progress but it’s behind the scenes – they need to shout about it and make customers aware. “Some of the companies who didn’t fare so well have engaged with WWF-UK since they were given their scores, to look at how they can improve their policy and communication around sustainable timber. As a result, we have decided to update the scores in the autumn to reflect immediate changes made by businesses.”
The scorecard will be repeated in full at least twice more before 2020, building on WWF-UK’s Save Forests campaign, which aims to get UK business to pledge to buy timber products from sustainable sources by 2020, and to support a move to a 100 per cent sustainable timber market by 2020.

View the timber scorecard here. (pdf)


News: New beaver kit captured on film at Knapdale – Scottish Wildlife Trust

Experts from the UK’s first licensed trial reintroduction of beavers - the Scottish Beaver Trial – have released footage of a new beaver kit at Lochan Buic in the Knapdale Forest of Argyll.

This is the first young beaver – known as a kit - to be spotted at the Trial site this year. The Scottish Beaver Trial partners suspect further breeding has occurred but is yet to be captured on camera following the end of the scientific monitoring period.

The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. It is hosted in Argyll by Forestry Commission Scotland. It is the first licensed trial reintroduction of a mammal to the UK and has brought the beaver back to Scotland after a 400-year absence.

Field Operations Manager of the Scottish Beaver Trial, Roisin Campbell-Palmer, said: “It is fantastic news that evidence of continued breeding at the trial site is occurring. Though the monitoring period has officially ended, our education ranger is still in place carrying out guided walks, delivering the education programme and keeping an eye on beaver activity. This footage shows a recently emerged kit, in good body condition, investigating the top of the lodge where it lives.

View the YouTube video here.


Scientific publications

Sol Balbuena, M., Hahn, M. L., Greggers, U., Menzel, R. & Farina, W. M. (2015) Effects of sub-lethal doses of glyphosate on honeybee navigation. Journal of Experimental Biology. doi: 10.1242/​dev.117291


Negri, I., Mavris, C., Di Prisco, G., Caprio, E. & Pellechia, M. (2015) Honey Bees (Apis mellifera, L.) as Active Samplers of Airborne Particulate Matter. Plos One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132491


Johnson, A. S. A., Sibly, R. M., Hodson, M. E., Alvarex, T. & Thorbek, P. (2015) Effects of agricultural management practices on earthworm populations and crop yield: validation and application of a mechanistic modelling approach. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12501


Huon, M. et al (2015) Habitat selection of gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) in a marine protected area in France. The Journal of Wildlife Management. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.929


Farmer, T. M., Marschall, E. A., Dabrowski, K. & Ludsin, A. A. (2015) Short winters threaten temperate fish populations. Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/ncomms8724


Miles, W. T. S. et al (2015) Decline in an Atlantic Puffin Population: Evaluation of Magnitude and Mechanisms. Plos One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131527


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