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


The Understanding Predation project identifies pathways to address conflict  - Scottish Natural Heritage on behalf of Scotland’s Moorland Forum

A report from a ground-breaking project identifying ways to resolve conflicts about predation is being launched today by Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod. The report analyses the views of a large number of stakeholders in conservation and land management alongside the most up to date ecological research on predator-prey relationships and the best means of protecting declining populations of ground-nesting birds.

Dr McLeod launched the report at Scottish Natural Heritage’s Battleby Conference Centre, in front of 60 delegates drawn from a wide range of organisations with particular interests in the uplands and farmland of Scotland.

Predation is a natural process, yet it often excites controversy and widely diverging opinions. The Understanding Predation project was established to develop a basis for a common understanding between scientists, conservationists and those who work the land. Collaborative discussions were a hallmark of the study as it progressed, and this bodes well for the development of future work to consider how we can address problems associated with predation.

The report found strong support from survey data and stakeholders’ knowledge that all six wild birds studied in detail (black grouse, curlew, golden plover, grey partridge, lapwing and oystercatcher) had shown widespread declines across Scotland since the 1960s. Importantly, stakeholders agreed that urgent action was needed to stop these population declines. Stakeholders valued the collaborative process adopted by the project, and the opportunities it provided for many diverse voices to be heard. The study recommends developing an adaptive, collaborative approach, linking scientific evidence gathering and stakeholders’ knowledge, to guide the development of management practices.

The Minister commented, "The Understanding Predation project is promoting a shared understanding of the nature of predation of wild birds in Scotland. I believe the collaborative approach adopted, bringing together science and local knowledge, will prove to be a turning point in the way we tackle these difficult issues in the future. I would like to offer my thanks to the Moorland Forum and all those who have contributed their knowledge and experience for providing this unique overview of predation issues.”

Find out more and access the report.


Reaction from Scottish Land & Estates -  Ground-breaking research project marks a turning point in the wildlife management debate

Scottish Land & Estates has heralded a new report launched today as a ‘pivotal moment’ in resolving conflicts around predation.

The Understanding Predation report, by Scotland’s Moorland Forum, was launched today by the Minister for Environment, Dr Aileen McLeod. The publication is the result of a year’s work by an eminent and impartial multi-disciplinary research team.

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Today’s report marks a pivotal moment in our understanding of issues of predation.

“Views about predators and the impact on their prey species differ and populations change over time and across Scotland, so it is vital to have an agreed baseline of information on which to base future decisions about management of species.  It is a huge subject but for the first time it has been quantified in one report and a road map for future work set out.  This work now needs to happen through firm direction from government and Scottish Natural Heritage.

“There is a clear message in the conclusions of the report that the next stage must focus on developing new practical collaborative approaches to adaptive management – and because of the prey species decline, there is no time to waste. 

“The challenge now is for all divergent interests to continue to come together and build on this landmark research. Too often we see wider conflict between different groups that erodes trust on the ground. This tension must become a thing of the past.

“We believe that it is vital that this work is taken forward as soon as possible with the momentum that the Minister has given to the report.  We have been closely involved with this project and will continue to work with partners on the Moorland Forum to put it into effect.  Issues around predation need to be resolved for the long term sustainability of all wildlife in Scotland.” 


Brecon Beacons National Park Authority agree plans to achieve budget cuts

At a National Park Authority meeting on 5 February, Members agreed plans to deliver the budget cuts required to achieve a balanced budget in the financial year 2016/17. The Authority has to accommodate a 4.7% budget reduction, equivalent to £218,000.    In the last three years the National Park Authority has had to save more than £1 million from its budget.

The Authority held an internal consultation on proposals intended to make the savings and, in today’s meeting, Members considered a detailed report on these and heard alternative suggestions which had emerged from the consultation responses and public comments.    Members accepted a voluntary redundancy as part of these measures.

There has been a misunderstanding that the National Park Visitor Centre (outside Libanus) is in jeopardy even though the original paper did not include a proposal to close the Centre.  Instead the plans addressed the future of the Visitor Information service and shop area; at no time has closure of the tea rooms been proposed. Members agreed that the Information service and shop will now remain open until 30th September 2016, the rest of the Centre will be open as normal.   Members heard that during the consultation period a number of alternative proposals had been received and these will be considered by a working group who will bring a revised paper to be discussed on June 10th at the National Park Authority meeting.  It was agreed however that the Waterfalls Centre in Pontneddfechan will close as of 6 June 2016.  National Park Authority officers are in discussions with representatives of the Pontneddfechan community to explore local interest in taking elements of the exhibition, currently housed at the Waterfalls Centre, to the Village hall.  It was noted that Cwm Porth information point and car park will remain open and this offers another access point to the waterfalls area.  The Geopark Centre which is currently located at the Waterfalls Centre will be moved to Craig-y-nos Country Park.

All local Authorities have a statutory duty to manage their rights of way network.  Within the Brecon Beacons National Park, Councils have delegated these duties to the National Park Authority and make a small financial contribution to delivering that work.  Members agreed to work with the County and Borough Councils to identify ways of continuing this important work in the light of current and future financial constraints.  There are no proposals to make changes to the excellent maintenance work undertaken by wardens and volunteers on rights of way across the National Park.


Government technology drive stifles UK tree growing and threatens woodland security - the Horticultural Trades Association

Despite promises to improve the amount of woodland cover and tree planting in the UK, the amount of new planting in England has dropped from 3,300 hectares in 2013-14 to 2,400 hectares in 2014-15 and unconfirmed analysis of 2015-16 suggests that this figure could drop to as low as 1,600 hectares.
This potential 50% drop in three years has angered growers who now face the alarming prospect of dumping trees which they have been growing to fulfil predicted grant orders which have not materialised. UK tree growers constantly face an uncertain market and threats from potentially devastating new pests and diseases such as Xylella fastidiosa, which could prove more devastating than the Chalara fraxinea outbreak of 2012.
The industry, through the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) Tree and Hedging Group, alerted UK Government to the risk of importing Chalara back in 2009. The industry has tried to convince Defra and its agencies of the need to develop a secure and stable market for UK-grown trees and to ensure plenty of lead time for public procurement projects. Despite repeated attempts to explain to civil servants the lead time for tree growing, the simple message that it takes time and commitment to grow trees does not seem to be getting through. Without a secure pipeline, the industry cannot supply UK trees in a sustainable way, and we will therefore import more and more trees.
Based on interaction with landowners and other customers, the trade believes that new technological ‘improvements' in woodland and tree planting grant administration by Defra and its agencies are to blame. If the cumbersome and complex grant system is not improved immediately, the knock on affect will be less seed sowing and planting for next year which will threaten the survival of UK growers.


Bystock boost - future of popular nature reserve secured - Devon Wildlife Trust

Bystock Pools, one of Devon’s most loved wildlife sites, has been secured for the future by Devon Wildlife Trust.
The popular East Devon nature reserve has been saved thanks to a record-breaking fundraising appeal. Generous donations were received from local residents, Devon Wildlife Trust members, the nature reserve’s own team of DWT volunteers and people from far and wide who love Bystock Pools.  The well-visited wildlife haven and beauty spot, between Exmouth and East Budleigh, was put up for sale by the landowner in spring 2015, having been leased to Devon Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve since the 1970s.
When landowner South West Water decided to sell, a kind contribution from a local benefactor enabled DWT to pay a deposit on the land. The company then gave DWT 12 months to raise the funds required to buy the site. That gave DWT until March 2016 to prevent Bystock being sold on the open market, with the potential loss of public access and wildlife habitat.
Liz Hamling, a member of the Exmouth & Bystock DWT Local Group of volunteers who help look after the reserve, expressed the volunteer group’s delight. “We've done it!” she said. “Bystock nature reserve is safe in the hands of Devon Wildlife Trust - for everyone to enjoy.”
DWT Nature Reserves Officer Edric Hopkinson commented: “Had Bystock been sold on the open market, who knows what would have happened to the heathland, ponds and meadows? DWT is grateful to South West Water, for giving us a year to raise the full purchase costs. Securing the future of the site is great news for everyone who loves this place – but it’s even better news for the wild creatures that call Bystock home”.  


Brownfield or greenfield: it's not a black and white issue - the Land Trust

Let's change our assumptions about developing land: that is the message from national land management charity The Land Trust and Buglife, who want to remind politicians it is not as simple as brown versus green.

The Prime Minister has renewed the government’s focus on brownfield sites for housing, while at its annual conference in September 2014, Labour suggested it would look to change the National Policy Planning Framework to ”strengthen brownfield first” if elected.  Meanwhile, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is continuing its call to protect greenfield.

However, it is clear that not all brownfield is suitable for development.

This has been demonstrated by the Land Trust and Buglife working in partnership on the former oil refinery in Canvey Wick, Essex, hailed as a ‘brownfield rainforest’ and working with developer Goodman to transform a disused power station into a wildlife haven at Oliver Road Lagoons, Thurrock.Euan Hall, Chief Executive of the Land Trust, said: ”Certainly, there are areas of brownfield that are well positioned to accommodate the UK’s housing needs, but equally, there are many brownfield sites that are more valuable to society and the environment as public open space.  A blinkered blanket approach is damaging. Brownfield can be a great place for wildlife, a great place for society to engage with nature and reap the benefits of the open space, as well as being a resource to assist with climate change adaptation.  Oliver Road Lagoons is a prime example with its wildflower-rich habitats supporting over 1,300 wildlife species, 50 of which are classified as endangered.  This proves that brownfield should not necessarily be the first port of call for new developments.”

The current National Planning Policy framework (NPPF) prioritises development on brownfield land, providing it is not of high environmental value.  But there are concerns that if this policy is lost or diluted, then some of the UK’s best wildlife sites could disappear and many rare and endangered species could be in serious trouble. 

Both the Land Trust and Buglife do support brownfield developments in principal, since the majority of brownfield land is of low value and suitable for development.  But it is important to recognise the brownfield sites which have very high environmental and societal value, and it is essential that these are properly considered in the planning process.


Connecting with nature offers a new approach to mental health care - Natural England

A new study has been published by Natural England which reviews the benefits and outcomes of approaches to green care for mental ill-health.

A report published today (9 February 2016) shows that taking part in nature-based activities helps people who are suffering from mental ill-health and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.

The report A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care suggests making greater use of ‘green care’ to help people suffering from mental ill-health. The new review was commissioned by Natural England from the University of Essex and Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity.

Mental ill-health is on the rise and in England it is estimated that in any one year at least 1 in 4 people will experience a ‘significant’ mental health problem. The new report suggests that green care interventions can provide an increasingly important and cost-effective way of supporting mental health services.

The report focuses on the 3 main green care interventions that are currently helping people in England who have mental ill-health: care farming; environmental conservation; and social and therapeutic horticulture.

The report presents evidence that shows that projects in each of these areas are already making a difference to people’s lives and bring a range of positive benefits for those with existing mental ill health. These include a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, and an improvement in dementia-related symptoms.

The report also shows that people involved in these types of green care activities have a greatly increased level of social contact and inclusion; as well as a sense of belonging and personal achievement.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said: "Mental health is one of the most serious and complex issues that we face in Britain today and it is great that we now have clearer scientific evidence that nature is so beneficial for our minds and our sense of self."

As part of our £900 million Countryside Stewardship scheme, we are supporting projects like care farms, providing effective recovery to those in need.

Alan Law, Natural England’s Chief Strategy and Reform Officer, said: "This report highlights how nature makes a real difference to the quality of people’s daily lives. It shows what we can do to improve people’s wellbeing, working through new partnerships and offering new services."

There is now compelling evidence to show that contact with nature and the outdoors improves physical health and mental wellbeing. Natural England is committed to find ways to help more people access the benefits that come through practical experiences in the outdoors.

Access the report A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care


Wildfowl and Wetland Trust to tell story of Sir Peter Scott thanks to National Lottery - Heritage Lottery Fund & Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre

The public will be able to visit the home of the ‘patron saint of conservation’ - Sir Peter Scott - for the first time, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) investment of £4.4million.

Sir Peter's home at Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire was the site of the BBC’s first-ever natural history programme. Sir Peter presented the show live from his studio lounge in May 1953.

Sir Peter Scott at Slimbridge. Credit: WWTSir Peter Scott at Slimbridge. Credit: WWT

HIs pioneering television career in the 1950s inspired many broadcasters, including Sir David Attenborough, who commented: "Peter is and always will be the patron saint of conservation. Long before words like ‘biodiversity’ were coined, Peter looked out from that huge window in his house at Slimbridge and realised our lives are so linked with our natural world that we have to learn to love it and look after it. I think it’s wonderful that absolutely anyone will be able to sit in that same window in future years and feel just as inspired.”

The house is also a key part of the story of modern conservation – the global system for designating species as threatened, endangered or extinct was largely devised there by Scott as he helped to found the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), IUCN Species Survival Commission and other organisations that have prevented many animals from going extinct.

HLF’s grant will help renovate the house and enable the public to experience the fascinating history within it. The Scott Tour will continue out into the grounds, among the world’s biggest collection of water birds including the Hawaiian goose, which Scott saved from extinction. There will be new attractions including an aviary and theatre, more hides overlooking the wild nature reserves and access to WWT’s world-renowned conservation breeding duckery.

HLF has awarded an initial £360,000 to help WWT develop plans for the new heritage tour of Slimbridge Wetland Centre, starting from Scott’s house. In addition to HLF’s full £4.4m grant, WWT will need to raise a further £1.6m towards the full £6m project cost.

WWT Chief Executive Martin Spray CBE said: “We want everyone in the area to feel proud of how important Slimbridge is to wildlife conservation across the world, and to enjoy getting close to wildlife in a beautiful, watery landscape. We’re inviting local people to be part of sharing that pride, and to inspire the young conservationists of tomorrow.”


NERC-funded scientists start work on Scottish slopes after storm Desmond and storm Frank landslides - NERC

Scientists will use cutting-edge technology to pinpoint potential landslide "warning signs" on a high-risk route in Scotland following devastating storms in December.

Since 2007, there have been 13 major landslides on the A83 at the Rest & Be Thankful beauty spot in Argyll & Bute, on occasions forcing the road to close at a high cost to the local economy.

3d computer model of Rest and Be Thankful site in Scotland3d computer model of Rest and Be Thankful site in Scotland (image: NERC)

Storm Desmond and storm Frank caused major flooding and disruption in Scotland and Cumbria in December and saw three large landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful site, one of which caused damage to cars. NERC has provided an urgency grant of more than £57,000 for the research to be carried out by the Newcastle University team with co-workers at Northumbria University and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). The team will work closely with Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland, who maintain the A83.

Using a drone weighing just a few pounds, researchers will create detailed 3D images of the slopes. By comparison with previous drone imagery and data, scientists hope to pin-point the small shifts in earth, water levels and sediment which may come before a landslide large enough to reach the road. These small events could provide warning signs ahead of major landslides in the future.

Project leader Dr Stuart Dunning, of Newcastle University, said his team has a unique opportunity thanks to the pre-event data gathered by monitoring devices installed on behalf of Transport Scotland over the past five years to measure rainfall, small movements and changing water levels in the slope every fifteen minutes.

Dr Dunning said: "We are in a unique position - many slopes in the world may be this active, but almost no others have the pre-event data that we have available to us, including measurements recorded throughout the storms which triggered the landslides. Transport Scotland's monitoring has provided us with an opportunity. We will be able to build 3D visualisations which compare pre-event data with the in-depth imaging to be collected on site by our drone in the coming weeks and link this to the rainfall and slope monitoring data. We hope to be able to use this to identify the smaller, less visible changes over, and within, the slope which prepare the slope for final failure, and be able to give some estimate of what leads up to that final failure. We are essentially asking - are there subtle warning signs on the slope that we should be looking for?"

The first 3D computer models of the site could be completed by the end of the month. As part of the 12-month project, researchers will also install equipment to monitor the passing of sediment through culverts under the road, signalling changes on the slopes which may not be visible. In addition, the project aims to shed light on the aftermath of landslide events with the potential to make recommendations for future mitigation measures.


Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment pilot study: visits to the natural environment by children - Natural England publication

Results from a project to test a method of measuring the level of access to the natural environment by children in England. 

The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) children’s survey is a pilot study to test the methodology for development of a national indicator for children’s access to the natural environment.

The survey collected information on children’s visits to the natural environment, including the:

  • frequency and destination of visits
  • motivations for visits
  • who visits were taken with

whether adults were present

The study has been carried out as a partnership project between Natural England, Defra, Public Health England, Historic England and King’s College, London.

Access the results: MENE: a pilot for an indicator of visits to the natural environment by children - results from years 1 and 2 (March 2013 to February 2015) (PDF)


Surge in seal pups at St Abbs - National Trust for Scotland

Ongoing monitoring by National Trust for Scotland wildlife experts has shown that the number of grey seal pups born at St Abbs in Berwickshire increased by at least 10 per cent in the last year.  

The conservation charity has kept an eye on its seal pups each November for a number of years, but only started detailed monitoring of the numbers of the grey seal pups in 2014 when local staff started to notice that they were seemingly spreading along the coast. 

Grey seals and pups, (image: National Trust for Scotland)Grey seals and pups, (image: National Trust for Scotland)

Visual counts backed up by detailed photography showed that on the main pupping beach, the number of grey seal pups had increased from 556 in 2014 to 631 pups in 2015. Total numbers of pups in this area of coast reached 927 pups in 2015. The monitoring work will continue over the next few years to see if this growing trend in seal pup numbers is short or long-term.

 Liza Cole, Property Manager at St Abb’s Head said: “Scotland and the UK hold over 40 per cent of the world population of this species. It is good to see so many pups on our beaches, as the grey seal is actually one of the world’s rarest. Grey seals are such a regular sight along our coasts, it is actually quite hard to appreciate this fact at times. However, it is not clear what our counts mean for the grey seal population as a whole at this time as many seal pups won’t last their first year.”

 Lindsay Mackinlay, Nature Conservation Adviser said:  “The figures for seal pups are interesting and encouraging, and something we will keep an eye on in the foreseeable future. At this time, it appears that other grey seal colonies along the east coast of the UK have witnessed large numbers of seal pups being born in 2015, although we do not know for how long this trend will continue.  I believe the Farne Islands colony saw similar increases to us but the seal pup counts at Blakeney Point in Norfolk remained stable in 2015 after several years of massive growth.”

While the monitoring work was underway, the Trust’s wildlife cameraman and video editor, Simon Goodall shot some compelling footage of the seal pups, focusing on one pup’s struggle for survival. 

The video is available to view on the Trust’s Nature Channel here.


European programmes to deliver millions for rural and coastal Wales, says Rebecca Evans - Welsh Government

Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans will today announce several new support mechanisms for Welsh farmers, foresters, and fishers providing access to millions of pounds of European funding.

The Minister will be at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea for the official start-of-term event of two European programmes, the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (WGRC) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014 – 2020 (EMFF).

During the event, the Deputy Minister will announce she is making the following schemes available within the next month:

  • The launch of the Sustainable Management Scheme to support collaborative landscape scale projects to deliver actions that improve our natural resources and delivers real benefits to farms, rural businesses and local communities.
  • A further Expression of Interest (EOI) window for the Food Business Investment scheme worth £14m to open on 29th February.
  • A second window for the Sustainable Production Grant, with a budget of £6m, three times the size of first window.
  • Another EOI window for the Rural Community Development fund, which aims to tackle poverty in rural communities, worth £4m.
  • A further £2.3m available for the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme as well as another £1m for Glastir Woodland Restoration, to help the forestry sector meet the challenge of Phytophthora Ramorum disease in larch.
  • The Timber Business Investment Scheme will also open later this month, to support proposals to encourage both active woodland management and increased value of outputs.


River restoration helping to reduce flood risk in the New Forest - Forestry Commission

A project to return rivers to their natural state is playing its part in reducing flood risk and conserving fragile habitats in the New Forest.

Local experts are reinstating drainage channels to their natural meanders, helping to enhance the area’s precious wetland habitats and naturally hold water upstream.

Meander in a river restoration (image: Forestry Commission)Meander in a river restoration (image: Forestry Commission)

River restoration is part of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme and has seen nine miles of drainage channels, first artificially straightened by the Victorians, restored to more natural stream systems. This work also slows water flow, helping to prevent flash floods racing downstream.

The ten year Higher Level Stewardship scheme is an agreement with Natural England, held by the Verderers and managed by them in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Higher Level Stewardship is a targeted scheme focused on achieving environmental benefits in priority areas. Over time, it will transition to the new Countryside Stewardship scheme which will put £900 million towards restoring habitats, protecting landscapes, creating new woodland, reducing flooding risks, and providing year-round food and shelter for pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

Research by national experts from The River Restoration Centre has shown that restored waterways have shown ‘sustained positive change over the period since their restoration both in terms of improving the quality of habitats and restoring the physical functioning of the river systems’.

Natural approaches to flood protection are increasingly seen as part of the response to the growing frequency and severity of flooding in the UK. These tactics are supported by experts from a wide range of organisations, including the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and Freshwater Habitats Trust. They have jointly described the natural approach as ‘sustainable both in terms of monetary cost and environmental impact’.


£7M research awards for control and eradication of bovine TB - BBSRC

  • Investment to bridge gaps in our understanding of the basic biology of the disease
  • New non-animal models will help scientists study the disease and test experimental vaccines
  • Programme set to overcome barriers to novel control and eradication strategies

Nine projects totalling more than £7M have been awarded by BBSRC, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as part of an integrated programme of research on bovine tuberculosis (TB). The programme, comprising two separate calls, aims to promote a step change in bovine TB research leading to the development of novel control and eradication strategies.

The first call, which included £70k support from NC3Rs, provided funding for three projects in 2015 to develop improved in vitro and in silico models to study bovine TB infection and virulence. The second call, which includes £600k support from Defra, sees a further six projects that will focus on bridging gaps in our understanding of bovine TB strain diversity and of theinteractions between bovine TB and its hosts, as well as accelerating vaccine research.

Bovine TB is the greatest animal health threat to the UK. Dealing with the disease is costing the taxpayer £100M each year.

The UK Government is pursuing a comprehensive eradication strategy which includes tighter cattle measures, improved biosecurity and badger control in areas where the disease is rife.

BBSRC Chief Executive Professor Jackie Hunter said: “The basic bioscience funded through this integrated research programme will play a crucial role in the development of next generation control and eradication strategies for bovine TB. Increasing the protection of herds to this disease is a top priority for UK food security, allowing greater food production from the same amount of land and reducing wastage in the food chain whilst reducing the cost to UK taxpayers.”

Dr Vicky Robinson CBE, Chief Executive of the NC3Rs said: “Research on bovine TB has traditionally been heavily dependent on animal research to study pathogen biology. The use of non-animal approaches such as in vitro and computer models have the potential to transform knowledge of the disease as well as avoiding the use of laboratory animals, making this new collaboration between the BBSRC and the NC3Rs a win/win.”


Have your say on Shetland Reserve management - Scottish Natural History

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is asking for views on its plans for the future management of Britain’s most northerly National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Shetland.

The public consultation runs until 25 March inviting comments on management proposals for Hermaness NNR over the next ten years.

SNH manages Hermaness under an agreement with the reserve’s owners, providing information and interpretation for visitors and maintaining the paths across the fragile blanket bog to the seabird cliffs.

Jonathan Swale, SNH Operations Officer for Shetland, said: “This consultation is important because it allows people to tell us what they think about the reserve and help shape its future management. We are especially keen to see Hermaness used to the benefit of the local community and schools and we hope to gather as many responses as possible. These will be taken into account when we write the final plan for the reserve.”

The proposals and information about the reserve are available on the NNR website.


Almost 2 million fish released into England’s rivers - Environment Agency

Record-breaking results for Environment Agency’s fish breeding farm

Record-breaking numbers of coarse fish were released into England’s rivers in 2015, the Environment Agency has revealed.  Last year was the best year ever for the Environment Agency’s specialist fish breeding farm in Nottingham. Experts stocked more than 452,220 fish and 1.3 million larvae into rivers all over the country. They were all bred at the Environment Agency’s Calverton fish farm.

Calverton is the Environment Agency’s principal supply of coarse fish for restocking. Every year for the last 31 years the farm has produced up to 450,000 fish of nine species for restocking into rivers following pollution incidents or to help restore fish stocks in rivers where numbers are low. All of its work is funded by rod licence income.

Fish farm team leader Alan Henshaw said: "Many of our industrialised rivers have improved dramatically in water quality in the last 30 years and concerted restocking from Calverton has accelerated the restoration of natural fish stocks and viable fisheries. Last year was no exception and, while it wasn’t a good summer for getting a tan, it was perfect for growing fish. Growth and production rates of fish that have been grown on the farm for 18 months have been the highest recorded at Calverton. Many rivers and lakes throughout England have benefited from these stockings and the quality of the fish is a testament to the hard work and professionalism of the staff."


Initial tests point to lack of food as factor in UK sperm whale deaths - WDC

Preliminary findings into the deaths of five of the six sperm whales whales beached on the coast of the UK in recent weeks have found that the cause of death was the result of live stranding and dehydration due to a lack of food. 

A sixth sperm whales stranded and died in the incidents but landed on a Ministry of Defence beach and could not be accessed.

These whales gain fluids (hydrate) from their food and it is thought that a lack of prey in the area that they had drifted into contributed to their deaths. It is still not known why the whales had moved into this region of the North Sea but it is thought that they may have got lost.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is funding a full UK investigation that will look further into any external contributing factors.


Scientific Publications   

Engst, Karina, Baasch, Annett, Erfmeier, Alexandra, Jandt, Ute, May, Konstanze, Schmiede, Ralf & Bruelheide, Helge.  Functional community ecology meets restoration ecology: Assessing the restoration success of alluvial floodplain meadows with functional traits. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI:  10.1111/1365-2664.12623


Newton, Ian, McGrady, Michael J. & Oli, Madan K.  A review of survival estimates for raptors and owls. Ibis.  DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12355


Abdullah Akpinar, How is quality of urban green spaces associated with physical activity and health?, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, ISSN 1618-8667, DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2016.01.011


Laura M. Soissons, Baoquan Li, Qiuying Han, Marieke M. van Katwijk, Tom Ysebaert, Peter M.J. Herman, Tjeerd J. Bouma, Understanding seagrass resilience in temperate systems: the importance of timing of the disturbance, Ecological Indicators, Volume 66, July 2016, Pages 190-198, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.01.030.


James W. Pearce-Higgins , Lucy J. Wright , Murray C. Grant , David J. T. Douglas The role of habitat change in driving Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix population declines across Scotland Bird Study  

DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1134439 


Cruickshank, Sam S., Ozgul, Arpat, Zumbach, Silvia & Schmidt, Benedikt R. Quantifying population declines based on presence-only records for Red List assessments. Conservation Biology  DOI:  10.1111/cobi.12688  


Todd, Brian D., Rose, Jonathan P., Price, Steven J. & Dorcas, Michael E. Using citizen science data to identify the sensitivity of species to human land use. Conservation Biology  DOI:  10.1111/cobi.12686


Matt I. D. Carter , Samantha L. Cox , Kylie L. Scales , Anthony W. J. Bicknell , Matthew D. Nicholson , Kelly M. Atkins , Greg Morgan , Lisa Morgan , W. James Grecian , Samantha C. Patrick & Stephen C. Votier  GPS tracking reveals rafting behaviour of Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus): implications for foraging ecology and conservation. Bird Study  DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1134441 


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