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


#ThanksAMillion Vine House Farm: Seed sales sow success for nature conservation - Wildlife Trusts

Sunflowers growing at Vine House Farm, Bright future for the birds on Vine House Farm credit Anna Guthrie

Sunflowers growing at Vine House Farm, Bright future for the birds on Vine House Farm credit Anna Guthrie

One man’s passion for the natural world has led to his family supporting UK wildlife conservation to the tune of £1,000,000, through feeding birds on a spectacular scaleNicholas Watts’ passion for birds has shaped his method of wildlife-friendly farming.  He grows more than 400 acres of seeds for birds and is the largest grower of sunflowers in the UK.  Since 2007 his award-winning business, Vine House Farm, has produced 13,000 tonnes of bird seed, enough to fill 26million garden feeders.

Through a partnership with The Wildlife Trusts, five per cent of bird food sales are donated to Vine House Farm customers’ local Wildlife Trust. Royalties will this month reach £1,000,000, supporting The Wildlife Trusts’ work to protect and restore areas for nature and inspire people to experience wildlife first-hand.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:  “We are delighted to have reached this milestone, thanks to a wonderful partnership with Vine House Farm.  We are grateful to everyone who feeds the birds in their garden, not only does it bring us joy but it makes a genuine difference to the success of the UK’s bird populations.  And Vine House Farm birdseed adds that bit more by supporting a wildlife-friendly farmer and the wider work of The Wildlife Trusts. Put together the UK’s gardens cover a great land mass but still more of our land is in the hands of landowners and farmers.  Those who work to help wildlife thrive can make a massive difference.  And Nicholas Watts does just that, channelling an astounding amount of passion and commitment in to his work.  He and his family are an inspiration.  By dedicating his life to conserving wildlife, Nicholas is leading the way in wildlife-friendly farming. The future of wildlife in the UK depends on us all taking responsibility in any way we can – whether by feeding the birds or by farming with wildlife in mind.”


Thanks a million stories, blog by Anna Guthrie, Wildlife Trusts

Conservation award-winning Vine House Farm birdfood has delivered £1,000,000 in royalties for The Wildlife Trusts and to celebrate this incredible milestone, we would like to say #ThanksAMillion. Our first #ThanksAMillion story is courtesy of Anna Guthrie, The Wildlife Trusts Media & PR Manager, who shares the joy of her garden bird encounters. 


Kids ditching computers for taste of simple life during school holidays - ASDA

Kids in favour of ‘off line’ activities – almost two thirds (65%) are excited about going to the park and over half (53%) enjoy a summer BBQ

Over a third of mums (39%) say their kids are excited by a simple bus journey

The top three summer holiday day trips haven’t changed in five decades with kids today replicating the summers their grandparents enjoyed

50 Years of Summer Mumdex survey reveals staycations have kept the top spot as the most popular holiday activity throughout the decades

Findings revealed as mums name this week as the time they run out of holiday activity ideas

According to Asda’s latest Mumdex poll, kids today share the same taste for the simple things in life during the summer school holidays as their grandparents did.

Proving parents needn’t stress about flashy activities, the 50 years of summer Mumdex survey revealed that the top three most popular day trips this summer are no different to what parents and grandparents enjoyed in their youth:

  • Seeking adventure at local parks
  • Having fun on Britain’s beaches
  • Splashing about at a local swimming pool

Most kids are shunning the indoors and computer games during the holidays, with mums revealing their children are most excited by ‘off-line’ activities like:

  • Going to the park (65%)
  • Seeing friends (64%)
  • Having a BBQ (53%)
  • Swimming (50%)
  • Playing outside (42%)


‘Extinct’ insect rediscovered in Edinburgh - Buglife 

Bordered brown lacewing (image: Buglife)The Bordered brown lacewing (Megalomus hirtus) has been rediscovered on Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh after having not been seen for over 30 years, and feared to be extinct in the UK.

The last record was from Edinburgh in 1982. The new specimen was found by Mike Smith, an intern with Buglife as part of a project supported by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).

Mike Smith, Buglife intern said “Finding the lacewing has been a really exciting start to my project and now we know that it’s not extinct, we can start learning more about it. We think it might live on Wood sage but we’re not sure and so we need to investigate further to make sure that this rare Scottish insect has everything it needs to survive.”

Colin Plant, the national recorder for lacewings, who confirmed the identification, said “The rediscovery of the Bordered brown lacewing in Edinburgh is really good news for biodiversity. The discovery gives hope that other rare invertebrates might still be hanging on in areas where their micro-habitats still remain. The ongoing campaign by Buglife to preserve habitats remains key to the long term survival of a huge range of invertebrates.”

Further work will now be done to work out how healthy the population at Arthurs Seat is, as well as searching other old sites where the lacewing had been found previously. 


New data confirms fieldsports link people with nature- British Association for Shooting and Conservation

Fieldsports generated 13 million visits to the English countryside between June 2014 and May 2015 according to the latest research from Natural England. Fishing generated another 17 million visits. The visits are measured in an update from Natural England on people’s engagement with the natural environment.

Earlier this year a BASC survey on the personal value of shooting found that 95% of people said shooting was important to their personal wellbeing and 84% said it helped their physical wellbeing. On average each person made 20 friends through shooting. 91% said they would spend less time outdoors if they could not shoot. 88% said shooting gives them moderate to intense physical activity. 71% said their levels of physical activity would be reduced without their shooting activities.

BASC chairman Alan Jarrett said: “In addition to generating £2 billion for the economy every year, shooting plays an invaluable role in improving social and personal wellbeing; bringing people together, keeping them active and helping them to spend more time outdoors in the countryside”.

BASC Chief Executive Richard Ali said: “Shooting is a great way to stay active and is a sport that people can take part in throughout their lives. This is especially pertinent given the worrying decline in the number of people taking part in regular exercise. Fieldsports link people with nature through outdoor recreation and active conservation. Uniquely in the outdoor pursuits sector shooters spend 3.9 million work days on conservation work which is the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs. This is a win for people’s health and wellbeing and a win for the health of our natural environment” 

The Natural England report on engagement with the natural environment can be found here. 

The Value of Shooting report from BASC can be accessed here. (PDF download available)


Royal Mail issues special stamps illustrating the beauty of British bees - Royal Mail

Royal Mail today (18/8) launched a set of 10 Special Stamps that celebrates the UK’s bee population.  The stamps feature illustrated images of various bee species from across the UK.

Royal Mail worked closely with Simon G. Potts, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at Reading University to produce a set of stamps that feature the Scabious Bee, Great Yellow Bumblebee, Northern Colletes Bee, Bilberry Bumblebee, Large Mason Bee and the Potter Flower Bee.

Royal Mail has also commissioned new research that found that over half of people questioned (53%) could not name any type of bee – despite nearly 87% saying they care about the bee population in the UK.

Findings also discovered that only 3% of people were aware there are around 250 species of bee living in the UK, with the majority (71%) believing there were fewer than 20. Nevertheless, over half (56%) said they did try to encourage bees into their garden by planting bee-friendly plant varieties.

Despite a lack of knowledge about bees in general, an overwhelming 82% of those asked were aware that the number of bees in the UK had declined over the past decades. The research found that age is a significant factor in the level of appreciation people have for bees. While 58% of over-55s said they care ‘very much’ about the bee population in the UK and only 8% said they care little or not at all, among 16-24 year-olds, only 18% said they care ‘very much’ and 26% said they care little or not at all.

Simon G. Potts, Director, Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, Reading University, said: “Scientists are learning more and more about the complex biology of bees, and this beautiful series of stamps captures the amazing diversity of bees and their lifestyles in the UK. It’s a chance for us all to keep learning about the unique wildlife that surrounds us.”

Dr Richard Comont of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust said, “It’s great to see Royal Mail showcasing some of our rarest and most spectacular bumblebees.  The Great yellow bumblebee used to be widespread across Britain but is now restricted to a tiny proportion of northern Scotland.  We hope these stamps will help draw attention to the very real threats faced by Britain's declining bumblebees.”

Look through the collection here.


Date for England's plastic bag charge announced - Marine Conservation Society

A new law which requires large shops in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags comes into force from Monday 5 October 2015. All retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees will have to charge a minimum of 5p for the single-use plastic carrier bags that they provide.

The Government has introduced the scheme to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags, and the litter associated with them, by encouraging people to re-use bags or to use ‘bags for life’.

MCS sees this as a positive step, having called for the charges which are already employed in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. However, we're very disappointed that the approach taken by the Government doesn't bring England into line with these schemes.

Firstly, only stores that have 250 employees or more are obliged to charge. MCS has repeatedly highlighted the need to apply the charge to all single use bags across all retailers. We feel that shoppers and shopkeepers will be much less likely to change their habit of routinely taking and giving free bags at the counter if the charge is not evenly applied. The scheme is likely to be less successful than it could be, as has been seen in other countries that have applied a charge across the board.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, says "We are very pleased to see this scheme finally coming into force in England. However, we are extremely disappointed that Government appears to have ignored the views of many people and groups, including small business associations, who supported applying the charge across the board. We will be seeking to have this reviewed at the earliest available opportunity."

We are also concerned that unproven "biodegradable plastic" bags may be used, which would be exempt from the charge. No truly bidegradable plastic bag exists.  It has also been reported recently that the charge may be taxed, which is likely to reduce the benefit of charitable funds raised through the scheme.

Details of the scheme can be found on Defra's website.


England’s rarest frog returns to Norfolk nature reserve - ARC Trust and Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Conservationists today (18/8) announced the return of England’s rarest amphibian, the northern pool frog, to its Norfolk home.
Female pool frog © Jim Foster via ARCThe northern pool frog became extinct in England at the end of the 20th century, with the last known colony at NWT Thompson Common, near Thetford in Norfolk. Northern pool frogs are now being released back at Thompson Common from the previously successful trial reintroduction at a different Norfolk site. This was done using animals imported from Sweden. As a part of the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Scheme, Norfolk Wildlife Trust worked with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation to plan the frogs’ return, using the latest approaches to recovering lost species.

Female pool frog © Jim Foster via ARC

Head of Nature Reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, John Milton said: “I remember hearing the loud call of male pool frogs in the 1980s and it is fantastic for Norfolk Wildlife Trust to be involved in their return”.  
“So often the news is filled with disheartening stories of species being lost from England’s degraded landscapes,” said Yvette Martin of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. “Yet today we’re demonstrating that even nationally extinct species have a chance to return. The northern pool frog is a fantastic example of how we can work together to bring species back, for their own sake and for future generations to appreciate.”


New onshore oil and gas blocks to be offered - DECC

The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) – the UK’s oil and gas regulator – today (18 August) announced that 27 onshore blocks from the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round will be formally offered to companies.

A second group of 132 further blocks has been subjected to detailed assessment under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the findings of which are now out for consultation.

Subject to the outcome of that consultation, the OGA will announce offers for the second group of licence blocks later in the year. The licences for all offered blocks will then be granted after the terms and conditions have been finalised.

OGA Chief Executive Andy Samuel said: “With almost 100 applications received, the 14th Onshore Round has attracted significant interest and high-quality proposed work programmes from a range oil and gas companies. Today’s announcement regarding the offer of 27 blocks gives those successful companies assurance about the blocks that they will be formally offered later in the year.”

UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said:  “As part of our long-term plan to build a more resilient economy, create jobs and deliver secure energy supplies, we continue to back our onshore oil and gas industry and the safe development of shale gas in the UK. This is why the OGA has moved quickly to confirm the winners of licence blocks which do not need further environmental assessment. Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come. It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls. Investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs creating financial security for hardworking people and their families, whilst providing a cost-efficient bridge to lower-carbon energy use.”


Government needs to keep fracking promise, says RSPB

Langford Lowfields, Ben Hall via RSPBThe RSPB has today [Tuesday 18th August, 2015] called on the Government to introduce new measures that rule out fracking within all protected areas, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), before handing out any new fracking licences offers.

Langford Lowfields is one of the RSPB reserves included in the fracking licence blocks. Image: Ben Hall via RSPB

Of the 27 blocks of land that will be formally offered to fracking companies for exploration, they included 53 SSSIs and three RSPB nature reserves; Dearne Valley, Fairburn Ings and Langford Lowfields.    

Reacting to today’s Government fracking licence offers, Matt Williams, RSPB Climate Change Policy Officer, said: “The Government is today doling out new fracking licences for areas of the UK that put some of our most precious wildlife sites under threat. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, such as Attenborough Gravel Pits and Fairburn & Newton Ings, are up for grabs for fracking companies who will be able to apply for planning permission to frack anywhere within these newly licensed areas. SSSIs are some of our most important wildlife sites. Species such as kingfisher, bittern and goldeneye could be put at risk in these special places and should be protected from the Government’s fracking plans. Questions need to be asked why the Government has begun handing out new licences before figuring out how it’s going to protect our most sensitive sites.” 

This is the latest in a string of announcements that have put the natural environment at risk from a growing fracking industry. In early August, it was announced Government want planning authorities to speed up the fracking application process, and that came only days after the Government reneged on a promise, made by Amber Rudd in February, to ban fracking on SSSIs. 

More reactions:

Government must rule out fracking within all protected areas – The Wildlife Trusts

CPRE calls for stricter safeguards as fracking licences awarded - CPRE

Government opens up huge swathes of Northern England for fracking blitz – Friends of the Earth


Worsening wind forecasts could signal stormy times ahead for seabirds - Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Stronger winds forecast as a result of climate change could impact on populations of seabirds, a new study suggests.

Isle of May cliffs, Mark Newell via CEHA brisk westerly wind creating rough conditions along the west cliffs of the Isle of May. European shags loiter around nest sites (Photo: Mark Newell).

Research into a common UK coastal seabird, the European shag, showed that when winds are strong, females take much longer to find food compared with their male counterparts. Researchers expect that if wind conditions worsen - as they are forecast to do - this could impact on the wellbeing of female birds, and ultimately affect population sizes. 

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the British Antarctic Survey carried out a two-year study into the cormorant-like Shags on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve in south-east Scotland. Small tracking devices were attached to the legs of birds and measured how long they foraged for fish in the sea.

In many seabird species, females are smaller and lighter than males, and so must work harder to dive through turbulent water. They may not hold their breath for as long, fly so efficiently nor dive as deeply as males. The latest results suggest that in poor weather conditions, this sex difference is exaggerated.

The scientists found that when coastal winds were strong or blowing towards the shore, females took much longer to find food compared with males. The difference in time spent foraging became more marked between the sexes when conditions worsened, suggesting that female birds are more likely to continue foraging even in the poorest conditions. 

The research was carried out as part of the long-term CEH seabird study on the Isle of May that began in the 1970s. The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

The full paper is open access at the Journal of Animal Ecology: Contrasting responses of male and female foraging effort to year-round wind conditions, doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12419 


‘Smacks’ shouldn't be ignored as 2015 looks set to be another bumper jelly year - MSC

Massive barrel jellyfish have appeared in record numbers for a second consecutive year, whilst in July huge numbers of mauve stingers were reported off Guernsey, and the potentially dangerous Portuguese Man O War has been washing up on beaches in the South West.

The rise of jellyfish in UK seas can no longer be ignored, and that more dedicated research and monitoring is needed to understand these apparent increases and what they mean for the state of our seas.

“Our National Jellyfish Survey suggests significant recent rises in the numbers of some jellyfish species in UK seas, most notably the barrel. The million-dollar question is why is this happening? At the moment we just don’t know,” says Dr Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity and Fisheries Programme Manager.

The MCS Jellyfish Survey started in 2003 and involves thousands of sea and beach-going public reporting their jellyfish encounters online at the MCS website. 2013 was a record year, with the survey receiving over 1,000 reports involving hundreds of thousands of jellyfish. Last year the number of reports increased again to over 1,400 reports, and by July this year the survey had already received over 1,000 reports. August is usually a peak month for jellyfish sightings and so 2015 looks set to be another record breaker. Barrel jellyfish normally make up 10% of its annual reports, but last year they made up 40%. So far in 2015, a whopping 75% of records have involved barrel jellyfish sightings.

“We know that our seas are changing through climate change, resulting in rising sea temperatures and increased ocean acidification, and we know our seas are also heavily fished. At the same time we seem to be witnessing increases in jellyfish around the UK. Is this an anomaly, a coincidence, or are the jellyfish telling us something about fundamental changes in the condition of our seas?” says Dr Richardson. 


Marine robots set out to explore hotspot for whales and dolphins - WWF

WWF is excited to announce a new partnership with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Southampton, using autonomous vehicles or ‘robots’ to explore our seas.

On Thursday 20 August, one of the robots, ‘Thomas’,  will be heading out from Milford Haven in Wales to explore the southern portion of the Celtic Deep, approximately 50 miles to the south west of the UK.
The Celtic Deep is a hotspot for marine mammals, including common dolphins, harbour porpoises and the world’s second biggest animal, the fin whale. Thomas travels along the sea surface and will be fitted with a number of GoPro cameras and sensors to detect underwater noise from vocalising marine mammals, as well as instruments to collect oceanographic information such as temperature, salinity and plankton densities.
Thomas will be meeting up with another robot – an underwater glider - in the Celtic Deep and they will spend three weeks surveying the area. You can track their progress via the Marine Autonomous Underwater Systems website. The information collected by the robots will give scientists a better understanding of the environment, which in turn helps to inform conservation and management of marine activities.

Canary Wharf is London’s seal watching hotspot - Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Thames Seal by Michael Robinson via ZSLMore than a thousand Londoners have helped the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) with efforts to conserve marine mammals in the Thames Estuary by spotting more than 2,700 seals, porpoises, dolphins and whales over the past 10 years.

The ZSL Thames Marine Mammal Sightings Survey, which launched in 2004, was designed to help conservationists develop a better understanding of how marine mammals use the Thames Estuary, in order to help conserve them. 

Thames seal photographed by citizen scientist Michael Robinson via ZSL

Joanna Barker, European Conservation Projects Manager at ZSL, said: 'People are often surprised to hear that marine mammals are regularly spotted in Central London. As a top predator, their presence is a good sign that the Thames is getting cleaner and supporting many fish species. The presence of these animals is also a great example of how urban environments are important for wildlife.'

Highlights from the 10 year report published today (Thursday 20 August) include:

  • More sightings were reported around Canary Wharf than any other area along the Thames Estuary
  • Many sightings were recorded in Central London, especially between the Houses of Parliament and the O2 Arena. Other sighting hotspots include Hammersmith, Southend-on-Sea and Cliffe
  • Seals were seen as far upstream as Hampton Court Palace, harbour porpoises and dolphins as far as Teddington Lock and whales as far as Gravesend
  • Harbour seals were the most commonly spotted marine mammal, with more than 1,000 animals reported over the 10 year period
  • Marine mammals were found year-round throughout the Thames Estuary 
  • The majority of sightings lasted less than 2 minutes and were of marine mammals swimming
  • 2013 saw the greatest number of sightings submitted (239 sightings)
  • Most sightings were of individual animals, but occasionally large groups are seen: In September 2014 100 seals were spotted at Greenwich and in November 2014 30 pilot whales were spotted near Clacton-on-Sea


New plan will boost starter homes in rural areas - Defra

Today the government has published its first Rural Productivity Plan to grow the rural economy.

Villages and towns in England’s rural communities will be allowed to build starter homes for local residents as part of plans set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss in the Government’s first ever Rural Productivity Plan.

The plan, announced as latest figures show thousands of people are moving to rural areas, will set out measures to boost the rural economy by investing in education and skills, increasing wages, improving infrastructure and connectivity, and simplifying planning laws for rural businesses and communities.

Measures covered by the plan include:

  • Amending planning rules to allow Starter Homes to be built on Rural Exception Sites for the first time. This will allow local areas to allocate more sites for Starter Homes specifically for people who already live in the area, or have an existing family or employment connection to the area.
  • Working with private sector providers to assess alternative solutions to deliver broadband further into rural areas.
  • Improving rural transport connections by feeding the views of rural stakeholders into the second Road Investment Strategy for 2020 to 2025.
  • Ensuring fairer funding for rural schools and work with schools and colleges that are currently underperforming or ‘coasting’ to ensure that, where appropriate, they are entering into collaborative arrangements and formal partnerships to raise standards.
  • Encouraging rural Local Authorities and providers to make innovative early expressions of interest to deliver 30 hours of free childcare to working parents.
  • Setting a new ambition to provide high speed broadband to businesses in all Enterprise Zones in rural areas.
  • Considering proposals for increased devolution of powers and greater freedoms to maximise economic growth in areas across the country that put in place strong and accountable local governance.
  • Improving connectivity by providing improved transport connections for businesses and passengers in local areas with fifteen brand new routes on the Regional Air Connectivity funding shortlist.
  • Together these steps will boost productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an even more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.


Read the full report: Towards a one nation economy: A 10-point plan for boosting productivity in rural areas 595kb (pdf)  



New Rural Productivity Plan will help countryside to thrive but better broadband plan still needed, says CLA

New Rural Productivity Plan suggests growth and development will override countryside protection - CPRE

Welcoming the Government's big plans for the countryside – Countryside Alliance


New evidence on the pollinator costs and farming benefits of neonicotinoid pesticides - Fera

Farmers who use neonicotinoid seed coatings subsequently use less insecticide to control pests on oilseed rape, according to new research published by Nature today. But the study also demonstrated that more honey bee colonies were lost as the usage of imidacloprid, a first generation neonicotinoid, increased.

Scientists and farmers have been debating the pros and cons of using neonicotinoid seed coatings to control crop pests for many years. A team of scientists from Fera have analysed national, long-term agricultural datasets to discover new information that contributes to both sides of the debate.

Published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports the study showed, for the first time, that farmers who use neonicotinoid seed coatings reduced the number of foliar insecticide sprays used to control pests on oilseed rape. Farmers using neonicotinoids also saw significant yield benefits, but not in all years.

Dr. Giles Budge, Head of Crop Science and lead author of the study said, “Our data indicate that farmers who used neonicotinoid seed coatings often had positive economic returns driven by an increase in yield, but this was not always the case. We now need to understand why neonicotinoid use does not always result in increased profitability for farmers to help target appropriate use to those situations where farmers see the most benefit.”

In line with recently published studies, the Fera research also demonstrated the potential impact on honey bees associated with using imidacloprid. The study revealed that more honey bee colonies were lost as the usage of imidacloprid increased. However honey bee colony losses were also linked to adverse weather and showed regional patterns, with beekeepers in Wales suffering consistently high losses.

Click Here to read the full report in Nature.


Youngsters discover Scotland’s wilderness through Scottish Natural Heritage and The Outward Bound Trust partnership

106 young people from Fife and Lochaber benefited from Outward Bound® courses this month with a real focus on natural heritage learning thanks to a partnership between The Outward Bound Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Scottish Natural Heritage has provided support over three years to enable young people aged 11-18 from across Scotland to participate in five day residential courses with The Outward Bound Trust with a particular emphasis on natural heritage learning. Participants from Glenrothes, Lochgelly and Kinlochleven High Schools learnt about the flora and fauna of our mountains, lochs and coast and the natural processes which formed these landscapes. They discussed the impact which man has on our landscapes and how to act responsibly in these environments at the same time as they explored on foot in the mountains, canoed and rock climbed as part of their Outward Bound course. Pupils also completed their John Muir ‘Discovery’ Award and learnt about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Shoreside Review (image: The Outward Bound Trust)Shoreside Review (image: The Outward Bound Trust)

The Trust’s Scottish Director, Martin Davidson said, “The Outward Bound Trust exists to unlock the potential in young people through learning and adventure in the outdoors. Our centre at Loch Eil is set amid spectacular scenery and thanks to the funding from Scottish Natural Heritage we have been able to make the most of this to increase learning about Scotland’s wonderful natural environment for young people on our courses and to encourage them to continue to enjoy the outdoors on their return home.”

Pete Rawcliffe, Unit Manager, People and Places Unit, Scottish Natural Heritage said, “We are really pleased to be supporting The Outward Bound Trust in this work. Evidence clearly shows that giving young people opportunities to enjoy and learn about the natural world is hugely beneficial for them in terms of personal development, healthy living and employability. This year’s programme has again provided a unique opportunity for a group of young people, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, to experience some of Scotland’s great outdoors for the first time and to gain benefits that can be life changing.”  


Emergency Conservation Order for Wester Ross - Marine Conservation Society

After evidence emerged of a scallop dredger towing in a protected area, the Scottish Government has put in place an urgent Marine Conservation Order (MCO) to safeguard fragile seabed habitats off Wester Ross in northwest Scotland. From midnight Monday 17th August, all forms of dredging, including for scallops, have been prohibited in the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area (MPA) which is home to delicate maerl beds, a fragile underwater habitat. The move comes after concerned members of the local community photographed and reported a breach of voluntary arrangements for fishing in the area, which have been in place since the site was designated a Scottish MPA last summer (along with 29 other sites).

MCS Scotland Programme Manager Calum Duncan said: “Whilst it is regrettable that  the voluntary closed area was breached, we welcome the Scottish Government’s rapid action with the emergency closure. It highlights just how urgent protection of our seabed has become. Safeguarding fragile features of our seabed such as maerl, which act as nursery and refuge areas for scallops and other fish and shellfish species, is in everybody’s long-term interest since they are the foundation for sustainable local livelihoods. We support this becoming a permanent closure as part of the proposed management measures for the site.”

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: 'It's very disappointing that a scallop dredger has breached the voluntary fishery management measures in this MPA which is considered vital to the recovery of maerl beds. The seabed shows signs of damage consistent with a pass of scallop dredging gear. Maerl beds can take centuries to grow back and further risk of damage to these precious habitats cannot be allowed. The evidence in this case has left me with no choice but to close the Wester Ross MPA to dredging now, instead of waiting until November as planned.


The Great Britain invasive non-native species strategy - defra policy paper 

Providing a framework on how to minimise the risks posed by invasive non-native species.

The strategy sets out key aims and actions for addressing the threats posed by invasive non-native species. It aims to:

  • get people to work better together, including the government, stakeholders, land managers and the general public
  • improve co-ordination and co-operation on issues at a European and international level

This strategy covers 2015 to 2020.

Download here (PDF)  


Scientific Publication

Coops, Nicholas. Characterizing Forest Growth and Productivity Using Remotely Sensed Data. Current Forestry Reports DOI: 10.1007/s40725-015-0020-x


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