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


Red squirrel study launched to assess scale of disease - National Trust

Wildlife experts have launched a project to better understand how British red squirrels are affected by a form of leprosy.  The study will investigate how the disease is passed between squirrels and how conservationists can help control its spread.

Red squirrel (image Monique Vanstone via National Trust)Red squirrel (image Monique Vanstone via National Trust)

Leprosy was first identified in red squirrels in Scotland in 2014, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium lepromatosis, although the disease is believed to have been present in the squirrel population for centuries.  Post-mortems have since revealed that the disease is also affecting squirrels on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island, off the south coast of England. The risk to people from the disease is very low.

The new research study will take place on Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbour, Dorset, which is home to around 200 red squirrels. The island location allows researchers to study the impact of leprosy in a contained environment.  The disease is believed to have been present on Brownsea for many years but researchers have only recently diagnosed it as leprosy.  Little is known about how the bacteria is spreading among red squirrels. The disease causes swelling and hair loss to the ears, muzzle and feet.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are working with the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust on the project.  Lead researcher Professor Anna Meredith, of the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “The aim of our study is to find out how and why red squirrels catch leprosy, and how it affects both individuals and populations. This disease appears to have been in squirrel populations in Scotland and England’s south coast for some time. With this research, we aim to help conservationists better understand and manage the disease in this iconic species.”


Launch of National Parks Partnerships - National Parks

British public support corporate involvement in National Parks to secure future sustainability sustainability

Nearly half of people surveyed on the future of the UK’s National Parks are concerned they will deteriorate if funding levels reduced in coming years, while 85% say that their perception of a large company would improve if it provided them with support, according to a survey by the National Parks Partnerships.

Launched today (9/5/16), the National Parks Partnerships has been created to enable businesses to readily engage with all 15 UK National Parks to enhance the quality and utility of the Parks now and for future generations. The Partnership is led by a Board of Directors of senior executives volunteering from the private sector and key commercial leaders from UK Parks. Steve Curl, Chair of the Board and spokesperson for the National Parks Partnership, said: “Government and the general public provide important support to the National Parks but we need additional commitments to make sure that they are not only sustained but enhanced for future generations. Partnership with responsible businesses - without commercialisation - can deliver the support needed to secure benefits from Parks for the massive number of visitors from the UK and overseas, local communities and the environment.”

In the survey of 2000 people across the UK, 67% strongly agreed that children need to get active in the great outdoors and nature and become real kids again and 68% strongly agreed that everyone should have the basic right to access nature in green spaces, fresh air and places like the National Parks.

Current plans for major partnerships include an 'Active Parks Partner' to jointly promote health and wellbeing activities within the National Parks; a 'Parks Discovery Partner' to help provide for children who wouldn't normally get the chance to have educational experiences in 'outdoor classrooms' in Parks; an official outdoor clothing supplier to the UK’s 255 National Park Rangers; a national funder for the 'Miles without Stiles' programme that creates and maintains accessible paths throughout the Parks; and opportunities to collaborate on environmental initiatives including sustainable transport, water and carbon management.


National Parks Partnership: Our mission is to maintain and enhance our National Parks for future generations.

National Parks Partnerships is a company set up by the UK's 15 National Parks in order to create successful corporate partnerships that generate vital income for the Parks. Our vision is to make a very significant, sustainable and discernible contribution to the improved quality of UK National Parks and the benefits they offer for generations to come. Free to access, and with 110 million visitors each year, the National Parks are a vital natural resource for everyone in this country. 


Getting more money into the National Parks? - Campaign for National Parks response

The National Parks Partnership, a new initiative that will enable businesses to engage with all 15 of the UK National Parks, has been launched today (9/5/16)

The Partnership will enable the Parks to work together to seek funding from businesses that will “enhance the quality and utility of the Parks now and for future generations”.

We recognise the need to bring new funding into the Parks and welcome attempts by the National Parks to be innovative about accessing new sources of income. But it is essential that any new funding does not lead to the commercialisation of them.

Fiona Howie, our chief executive said, “Already, too many people are unable to access and enjoy our National Parks. Past funding cuts have meant that novel approaches to public transport have been stopped and local businesses have been closed, as well as less money being invested in conservation work. We know there is a need to get more funding for the Parks to benefit rural businesses, visitors and wildlife.”


Some good news from the RSPB

First from RSPB Scotland: Hoy's sea eagles pass halfway mark

All’s going well for Orkney’s nesting sea eagles, according to the RSPB Scotland team watching over the birds on Hoy.

After a late start – the pair only appeared to settle on the nest around mid April – the young birds are now a little over halfway into the expected incubation period of five to six weeks. Success would mean Orkney’s first sea eagle chicks in nearly 150 years.  Since starting to incubate, the pair on Hoy have been seen almost daily, usually swapping over on the nest two or three times during the day. Visitors have also been delighted by regular views of the off-duty adult flying in with prey, preening on the crags and chasing off ravens.


And then from RSPB Northern Ireland: Corncrake calls on Rathlin Island

The distinctive crex-crex call of the corncrake has been heard on Rathlin Island for just the second time in 17 years.

The male’s distinctive call at dusk and through the night during breeding season (May to August) is often the only indication that these secretive birds, relatives of the moorhen and coot, are hiding in the dense summer vegetation.

Sadly, within a generation, this species has been virtually wiped out in Northern Ireland, largely due to changes in agricultural practices, and the last reported breeding pair in Northern Ireland was in the late 1990s.  However, the species can still be found in large numbers on the west coast of Scotland and in Donegal within 30 miles of Rathlin Island.

Through its Giving Corncrake a Home project, RSPB NI has been working for a number of years to entice the species back to Rathlin.  A male was heard calling in the Church Bay area in May 2014 but, sadly, it was disturbed and did not attract a mate.  At the time, the RSPB said its work for the species would continue and the latest development proves their perseverance is paying off.


Prisoners build over 10,000 nest boxes for rare hazel dormice - People’s Trust for Endangered Species

UK conservation charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has been working in partnership with HMP Doncaster and HMP image: PTESHumber in order help wider conservation efforts to save the rare hazel dormouse, whose population numbers have fallen dramatically over the last century. Since 2010, men at both prison sites have built 10,963 dormouse nest boxes as part of PTES & Natural England’s National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP).

The partnership between PTES and HMP Doncaster and HMP Humber is now in its sixth year, and the 10,963 newly built nest boxes have been distributed to nearly 150 of the 400 NDMP sites to provide new homes for dormice to help replace natural habitats that have been lost.

Image: PTES

Hazel dormice were once widespread across England and Wales, but due to continuing loss of their ancient woodland and hedgerow habitat, numbers have declined dramatically over the last century. As a result, hazel dormice are now listed as rare and vulnerable to extinction. To combat falling populations, PTES and Natural England co-fund the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, which relies on volunteers to collect dormouse data from nest boxes at NDMP sites across the country. By installing special nest boxes, which are similar to bird boxes, PTES can observe any changes to dormouse populations in a given area, as well as providing a much needed alternative habitat.


Together against the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds - Ramsar

Image: RamsarEach year an estimated 50 billion migratory birds travel thousands of kilometres. On their migratory routes the birds have to overcome enormous obstacles. Today one of them is illegal killing. Many wild birds are illegally taken or killed due to hunting for subsistence, recreational activities and traditional practice.

Image: Ramsar

This year’s World Migratory Bird Day is celebrating the natural miracle of bird migration and is calling for action to end the illegal killing and trade of birds. Illegal hunting leads not only to drastic declines of bird populations but it also harms society in general, our very existence and our natural resources.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has, since its inception in 1971, paid particular attention to migratory birds. Of the current 2,240 Ramsar Sites (covering over 215 million hectares of wetlands worldwide) 1,103 (49% of all Sites) have been specifically designated as key sites for migratory waterbirds. 


Boat operators reminded of rules on protected marine mammals – Marine Management Organisation       

MMO recommends WiSe scheme to boat owners and operators as it issues reminder that dolphins, porpoise and whales are protected species.

Disturbance of dolphins is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981 (MMO)

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is reminding boat owners and operators of registered passenger and charter vessels about the rules and best practice relating to marine wildlife.

As the warmer weather reaches English shores it brings with it increasing opportunities to observe dolphins, porpoises and whales. Whilst this is a fantastic opportunity for wildlife watchers and marine tourism, it is essential that the health and well-being of the animals is considered at all times.

Endangered species dolphins, porpoises and whales are protected by wildlife legislation including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Under the Act it is an offence to intentionally and/or recklessly disturb these animals, with offences of disturbance carrying a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Disturbance by boats often causes stress and harm to dolphins, porpoises and whales, affecting their ability to feed, breed or nurture their young. To ensure the safety and appropriate protection of these animals the MMO recommend that boat and vessel owners follow the Wildlife Safe (WiSe) scheme.


Peak District pollination hotspot bid wins Heritage Lottery Fund support – Bumblebee Conservation Trust

An initiative by Bumblebee Conservation Trust to transform the Peak District into a pollination hotspot is set to launch after receiving earmarked support of £850,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The conservation charity’s four-year Pollinating the Peak project will work with communities, local authorities and landowners to create and Gill Perkins, Chief Executive Officer at Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Peter Corke, Sustainability Officer at Chesterfield Borough Council with carved oak bumblebee at Chesterfield’s St Mary’s Church (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)restore at least 300 hectares of flower-rich habitat for native wild bee species and pollinators, and also aims to involve hundreds of gardens.

Gill Perkins, Chief Executive Officer at Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Peter Corke, Sustainability Officer at Chesterfield Borough Council with carved oak bumblebee at Chesterfield’s St Mary’s Church (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)

Citizen science will address a severe lack of bumblebee records in the Peak. Volunteers will be trained in bee identification methods, with high-quality data from surveys used to inform local and national land management action plans, and to help provide early warning of declines. A particular focus will be the monitoring of the Bilberry bumblebee, an iconic Peak District species.
There will be awareness raising and education about the importance of bees and their pollination services, as well as threats to bumblebee populations and what can be done to tackle declines. Innovative methods will be used to highlight pollination in schools, and there will be engagement with local communities as well as tourists and visitors to the area, including at festivals and well dressings.


From sweet potatoes to orchids – Kew Gardens

Kew report urges global scientific community to secure health of the planet.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew today released the first annual report on the State of the World’s Plants, ahead of the international science and policy symposium on the topic.

The first annual State of the World’s Plants report, which involved more than 80 scientists and took a year to produce, is a baseline assessment of current knowledge on the diversity of plants on earth, the global threats these plants currently face, as well as the policies in place and their effectiveness in dealing with threats.

“This is the first ever global assessment on the state of the world’s plants. We already have a ‘State of the World’s …birds, sea-turtles, forests, cities, mothers, fathers, children even antibiotics’ but not plants. I find this remarkable given the importance of plants to all of our lives– from food, medicines, clothing, building materials and biofuels, to climate regulation. This report therefore provides the first step in filling this critical knowledge gap.” said Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at the report launch on Monday (9 May). 

You can download the report here


Mass of marine litter collected during one of Gwent’s largest beach cleans - Gwent Wildlife Trust

Volunteers and staff from local organisations came together to take part in one of the largest coordinated beach clean at Peterstone foreshore in Gwent. While the stars of the day were undoubtedly the volunteers who covered more than a mile of shoreline, there was an abundance of far less glamorous visitors including car tyres, cool boxes, knives, bicycle wheels and, most frequently found of all, plastic. The sheer amount of plastic bottles, caps and cotton buds found highlights the continuing problems that plastics and other man-made litter cause to Welsh beaches, coastlines, seas and most of all wildlife.

Litter included Gas bottles, tyres, cool boxes, wheels, chairs and a large amount of plastics including bottles, foam, bottle tops and cotton bud stems (image: Ben Boylett)Litter included Gas bottles, tyres, cool boxes, wheels, chairs and a large amount of plastics including bottles, foam, bottle tops and cotton bud stems (image: Ben Boylett)

60% of Wales’s population live and work on Welsh coastline, marine litter and other man-made pollution is not only unattractive to any coastline but, more importantly, it is dangerous to wildlife. This danger is why fifty volunteers and staff from Gwent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Wentloog Wildfowlers, Keep Wales Tidy and Newport City Council took on the challenge of clearing huge amounts of litter and debris from a mile-long section of Gwent coastline, whilst monitoring the variety and density of man-made materials found. In the past ten years on the Peterstone foreshore, beach cleans have made a significant difference thanks to volunteers and coordinated effort of local organisations. Unfortunately the huge amount of man-made material still being found during the beach clean is a reminder of the responsibility and combined effort needed by all of us to prevent every day rubbish becoming marine litter.


Providing evidence to improve practice - National Biodiversity Network

Conservation Evidence, a new website, is a free, authoritative information resource designed to support decisions about how to maintain and restore global biodiversity.

Here you will find summarised evidence from scientific literature about the effects of conservation interventions such as methods of habitat or species management. Expert panels are then asked to assess the effectiveness (or not) of interventions, based on the summarised evidence.

The idea is to give conservationists easy access to the latest and most relevant knowledge to support their conservation policy or management decisions. Simply search for your species, habitat or issue of interest. The site will present you with a list of possible actions you could take, along with a plain English summary of the available evidence for whether each one is effective (or not). It will also provide expert assessment of the effectiveness, based on the summarised evidence

Have a look at the website here: www.conservationevidence.com   


Hesketh Out Marsh goes wild again - RSPB

After more than 35 years stuck behind a private sea wall, more than 154 hectares of land (380 acres) is being returned to the Ribble Estuary, providing a valuable home for wildlife in Lancashire, as well as bolstering flood defences in the face of rising sea levels.RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh reserve, Lancashire (Image: Andy Hay, RSPB)

RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh reserve, Lancashire (Image: Andy Hay, RSPB)

Thanks largely to Landfill Communities Fund monies from FCC Environment through WREN, the RSPB has purchased Hesketh Out Marsh East (HOME), a former part of the estuary that was converted into intensively managed farmland in the early 1980s. The RSPB acquired parts of the site in 2010 and in early 2014, and recently secured the last 54ha (133 acres) block of land, necessary to complete the ambitious project.

The RSPB is working in partnership with the Environment Agency and Natural England to return Hesketh Out Marsh East to saltmarsh, by reconnecting it to the Ribble Estuary. 

This process, known as managed realignment, involves strengthening the inner flood defences and then breaching the outer private sea wall to allow the water to flow in naturally. This process will eventually return the land to saltmarsh, which will act as a buffer, absorbing the energy of the tides before they reach the improved flood bank.  The saltmarsh will also benefit a range of breeding wading birds such as redshanks, together with wintering wildfowl including pink-footed geese and wigeon.

The breaching of the outer private sea wall is scheduled for summer 2017. In the meantime, the RSPB and the Environment Agency are landscaping a series of lagoons and creeks at the site to create great habitat for wildlife.


Using portable nanopore DNA sequencers to combat wildlife crime - University of Leicester 

University of Leicester researchers aim to develop a test using DNA to identify species at crime scenes in as little as an hour  

A team from the University of Leicester has been awarded a prize for their proposal to crack down on wildlife crime using a portable DNA sequencing device, the MinION - developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies - to read the ‘barcode genes’ of animals affected by illegal trafficking. 

Close-up of the MinION handheld DNA sequencer (image: University of Leicester and Oxford Nanopore)Close-up of the MinION handheld DNA sequencer (image: University of Leicester and Oxford Nanopore)

The Leicester team will collaborate with organisations working in the field such as the Kenya Wildlife Service and Panthera.

The method, proposed by Dr Jon Wetton from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics, uses DNA barcode genes to identify animal species in real time. 

This could be used to test blood stains on the machete of a poacher, identify bushmeat from endangered animals such as chimpanzees at local markets - and even detect the frequent illegal substitution of products derived from protected species in the caviar trade.


Views sought by SNH on future management of Highland reserve - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage is holding a six-week consultation on a 10-year management plan for an internationally important site.

Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve (NNR) is a haven for many species of rare plants and lichens, as well as specialised upland species.

The consultation runs from 2 May to 13 June 2016. As part of this process two local drop-in sessions have been held at Laggan Village Hall and at the reserve itself.

Chris Donald, SNH’s South Highland operations manager, said: “We are keen to hear peoples’ views on the future management of the Creag Meagaidh reserve, which is a special place.  We are committed to ensuring that the special qualities of the reserve continue to thrive, and that the Reserve continues to be a source of inspiration as a place for people and nature.  We renew reserve management plans every 10 years in a process which allows us to review previous actions; and considering what has worked and what needs to be reviewed. In developing the new plan, the views of our visitors, the people of Scotland, and other interests are important to us, hence this consultation.”


Can the Ash Tree Survive Ash Die Back? A Living Ash Trial Created in The National Forest - The National Forest

A trial to look for potential tolerance to ash dieback in different varieties of ash has been created by Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission, on land owned by the National Forest Company (NFC) in The National Forest near Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

An young ash tree (image: National Forest)An young ash tree (image: National Forest)

Over 4,000 trees have been planted across 2 hectares of land in an experiment that will extend over the next five years. The trial is one of a national network of such sites looking into the effects of ash dieback.  The trial is part of the Living Ash project sponsored by Defra and co-ordinated by the Earth Trust, who is also involved with Walnut species trials in nearby Lount Woods.

The common ash is a very genetically diverse species, and experience from the continent shows us that between 1 – 5 % of all trees are tolerant to ash dieback, which means that it is possible to breed ash for tolerance to the disease. The Living Ash Project aims to identify these tolerant trees and bring them together to form a new breeding population. 

Simon West, NFC Head of Forestry said: "Ash is a magnificent, valuable and irreplaceable tree in our landscape with between 1 and 2 million in The National Forest and lots more across England. This partnership with Forest Research and the Earth Trust is vital in ensuring that ash will continue to make a contribution to our landscape."

Dr Steve Lee, Forest Research Programme Leader for Genetic Improvement, said: "This trial is one of three we are planting this spring across eastern England. We are very excited that as the trees grow, some will die, some will struggle on badly with the infection and a rare few are expected to tolerate the disease. Those are the ones we are after.  The unique design of this experiment will enable us to work out how heritable any Chalara tolerance is and for the first time give a clear indication of the likelihood of being able to breed our way out of this problem.  Many thanks to the National Forest Company in allowing Forest Research access and use of this site over the coming five years."


Wintering Waterbird Official Statistics published - JNCC 

The latest results of the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) have just been published. The summary report “Waterbirds in the UK 2014/15 – The annual report of the Wetland Bird Survey” and the online reporting tool are available from BTO.  WeBS is the principal scheme for monitoring the populations of the UK’s wintering waterbirds, indicating the status of waterbird populations and the health of wetlands. The results make up the annually produced wintering waterbirds official statistic​.

 Summary: This latest WeBS assessment covering the period up to mid 2015 presents population trends of non-breeding waterbirds in the UK.  UK WeBS trends for many estuarine species such as Shelduck, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin and Oystercatcher have shown steady declines, whereas the UK indices for some fish-eating species such as Little Egret have increased rapidly in the past 25 years.   The winter weather of 2014/15 was fairly typical for the UK and the recent series of typical maritime mild winters appears to have allowed recovery in species such as Little Grebe. Some of the scarcer waders in winter such as Whimbrel, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Ruff have also seen UK mid-winter numbers increase.  

Teresa M. Frost, Graham E. Austin, Neil A. Calbrade, Chas A. Holt, Heidi J. Mellan, Richard D. Hearn, David A. Stroud, Simon R. Wotton and Dawn E. Balmer. 2016.Waterbirds in the UK 2014/15: The Wetland Bird Survey. BTO, RSPB and JNCC, in association with WWT. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.

Download the report  Waterbirds in the UK 2014/15 (PDF from BTO)


Exploring future trends in pest damage to forests in a changing climate - Forest Research

A new Forestry Commission Research Note explores future trends in insect pests’ effects on Britain’s forests as the climate changes. 

The research note was written by Forest Research entomologists Dr Daegan Inward and Dr Dave Wainhouse.

It outlines the main changes projected for the British climate over the coming decades and how forest insects, grouped according to similarities in their ecology and life history, are likely to be affected by climate change.  The research note is intended to help woodland managers, foresters and researchers with long-term forest management planning decisions.

Dr Inward said,

“The key messages from the review we’ve conducted for this research note are that:

  • managing and mitigating the risks of pest damage is an important aspect of sustainable forest management;
  • climate change will affect the abundance and geographical distribution of forest insect pests and the severity of damage they cause; and
  • climate change will also affect host trees (in some cases making them more susceptible to attacks by pests) and the natural predators of pests.”

Dr Inward added that the effects on pests are likely to be complex, influencing not only their rate of development, number of generations per year and the seasonal timing of life-cycle stages.

Download the Research Note: The influence of climate change on forest insect pests in Britain here (PDF)


Buglife welcomes sensible decision on pesticides

Buglife welcomes news that The NFU’s and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) applications for a second neonicotinoid emergency derogation to use the insecticides on oilseed rape (OSR) has been refused.  Buglife believes this is a sensible decision, but one that should also have been taken last year.

As a result of last year’s NFU derogation many fields in eastern counties were split, with half being sown with neonic treated OSR seeds and the other half being untreated.  Provisional results presented by ADAS (the UK's largest independent provider of environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice) indicate that at the 3-5 leaf stage there was no different between the treated and untreated sides of the split fields.  The neonics were making no difference to the effective establishment of the crop, but were putting our wild pollinators at risk.

Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife commented. “Oilseed rape yields went up by 7% last year, this is not an ‘emergency’, the loss of bees and pollinating insects is the emergency.  The decision to refuse to allow the continued use of neonicotinoid insecticides on oilseed rape in the UK is great news for the bees and for the hundreds of thousands of British people who have asked the Government to do more to protect our disappearing pollinators


An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland The Proportion of Scotland's Protected Sites in Favourable Condition 2015 - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage has today (13/5/16) released the latest figures tracking the proportion of Scottish protected natural features in favourable condition.

The main findings show that of the more-than 5,000 Scottish natural features on protected nature sites, 80.4% are either in favourable condition, or unfavourable but recovering towards a favourable condition.

This figure represents a 1.1 percentage points rise in the proportion of natural features in favourable or recovering condition between 2015 and 2016. There has been a nine percentage points increase since assessment reporting began in 2005.

There are three broad types of protected features: earth science, which covers geological outcrops and landforms, fossil beds and caves (98.1% in favourable condition); species (76.3% in favourable condition) and habitats (79.4% in favourable condition). All saw an increase in the proportion of features in favourable condition since last year (species 0.1 percentage points; earth science 0.5 percentage points; and habitats 2.1 percentage points).

Of the individual feature types which are monitored, some feature types showed an increase in the proportion of features in favourable condition, some remained stable, whilst others decreased. Of particular note were wetland features where the proportion of natural features in favourable condition rose from 81.2% in 2014/15 to 85.3% in 2015/16

The full statistical publication can be accessed online.


WWT welcomes Government’s new homes flooding announcement - Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

Rules to stop new homes in England from causing flooding might not be working, so the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is welcoming a Government announcement to review them.

Rain runs off the roofs and parking spaces - into a wildlife-rich wetland (image: WWT)Rain runs off the roofs and parking spaces - into a wildlife-rich wetland (image: WWT)

New homes can cause flooding because they replace open land, which soaks in rainwater slowly, with surfaces that rainwater runs off quickly like roofs, patios and driveways. This increased speed and volume of rainwater off thousands of new homes can overwhelm our drainage systems.

The Government announced it will review law and policy on new homes connecting to mains drainage in response to an amendment to the Housing & Planning Bill, a Bill which aims to help build a million homes by 2020.  The amendments, tabled by Baroness Parminter, Lord Krebs and Baroness Young, had proposed that all new homes should absorb rainwater onsite by using features like soak-away chambers, ponds or green roofs rather than connecting to drains which often have limited capacity to take more water.

WWT Head of Government Affairs, Dr Richard Benwell said:  “We welcome this step forward on flood mitigation in England. The case for strengthening the legal requirements for sustainable drainage in new homes is compelling and has been supported by a wide group of experts from across the industry and across the political spectrum.  This review must run rapid and deep, finding out what’s happening on the ground in time to make sure that the new homes we need are delivered in a way that is safe and environmentally sound – especially in our increasingly erratic climate. We look forward to clear evidence and appropriate action from Government next year”


Scientific Publications

Klaus, Joyce Marie & Noss, Reed F.  Specialist and generalist amphibians respond to wetland restoration treatments.  The Journal of Wildlife Management.  ISSN: 1937-2817 DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21091


Leonardo Paolini, Ezequiel Aráoz, Antonela Gioia, Priscila Ana Powell, Vegetation productivity trends in response to urban dynamics, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, ISSN 1618-8667, DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2016.04.005.


Anouschka R. Hof & Paul W. Bright. Quantifying the long-term decline of the West European hedgehog in England by subsampling citizen-science datasets.  European Journal of Wildlife Research DOI: 10.1007/s10344-016-1013-1


Substantial heritable variation for susceptibility to Dothistroma septosporum within populations of native British Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). A Perry, W Wachowiak, A B Brown, R A Ennos, J E Cottrell and S Cavers. Plant Pathology. 2016. doi: 10.1111/ppa.12528

Read the CEH blog about this paper: Cause for optimism in the fight against tree disease.  Annika Perry and Stephen Cavers on their new research indicating that Scots pine could evolve to cope with Dosthistroma needle blight 


Navinder J. Singh, Edward Moss, Tim Hipkiss, Frauke Ecke, Holger Dettki, Per Sandström, Peter Bloom, Jeff Kidd, Scott Thomas & Birger Hörnfeldt. Habitat selection by adult Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos during the breeding season and implications for wind farm establishment.  Bird Study  DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2016.1183110


Naomi Huig , Roland-Jan Buijs , Erik Kleyheeg. Summer in the city: behaviour of large gulls visiting an urban area during the breeding season. Bird Study  DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2016.1159179 


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