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


Key motivations for citizen scientists revealed – University of York

A study part-conducted by researchers at the University of York shows that ‘helping wildlife’ and ‘contributing to scientific knowledge’ are among the key motivating factors for citizen scientists.

Image: University of YorkImage: University of York

Citizen scientists are members of the public who volunteer their time to contribute to scientific research. There are millions of volunteers across the UK who give their time on a regular basis.

Understanding Motivations for Citizen Science, led by the University of Reading’s Department of Geography & Environmental Science in partnership with the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience at the University of the West of England, investigated reasons why 147 citizen scientists gave their time to gather information for such research.

Primary motivations were named as ‘helping wildlife in general’ and ‘contributing to scientific knowledge’, with other motivations including enthusiasm for the subject, enjoyment, and skills development.

Organisational factors relating to feedback and good project management were also shown to be vital to maintaining participation.

Interviews with stakeholders in citizen science found that they were motivated by advancing science and improving policy and management but also held altruistic motivations around education, engagement and generating impact for their participants’ lives.

Alison Dyke, Community Scientist at SEI, said: “Citizen science is a growing field and has been developing in terms of assuring data quality. As it is increasingly used to contribute to evidence, it’s really important to think about how the motivations of the scientists, policymakers and project leaders who design and lead these initiatives can be aligned with the motivations of the participants.”


Police appeal after shocking extent of red kite persecution – North Yorkshire Police

Police are urging members of the public to support them in the fight against red kite persecution, after another bird was found shot last weekend.

On the morning of Sunday 22 May, a walker on Hall Lane, Blubberhouses, found an injured red kite, in distress and unable to fly. They contacted a wildlife charity, and the bird was taken to a specialist avian vet in Harrogate.

Examination revealed the bird had been shot and had a shattered wing. Sadly, its injury was so severe, it had to be euthanized. The shooting may have taken place a few days before the bird was found.
In the last two months, five red kites in North Yorkshire have been shot or died in circumstances that suggest poisoning, as well as three further afield in the region.
Of those eight red kites, five have been shot. One, found near Malton, was rehabilitated and released back to the wild, but the other four were so badly injured they had to be euthanized by a vet. The three suspected poisoned birds are being examined by the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme.
PC Gareth Jones, Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator at North Yorkshire Police, said: "Red kites were persecuted into virtual extinction in the UK, but in recent years they have been re-introduced through breeding programmes at a number of locations nationally. In Yorkshire, they have spread from their release site at Harewood House, and are now breeding over a large area. Red kites are scavengers, and normally eat carrion, their favourite food being rats and rabbits.”


John Muir Pollinator Way, Scotland’s first B-line - Buglife

Image: BuglifeScotland’s first B-lines project, the John Muir Pollinator Way, has identified opportunities for creating, enhancing and managing important grassland habitat along the entire route of the John Muir Way and almost 2 miles either side, that will not only provide important foraging habitat for pollinating bees, hoverflies and other insects but also homes for other wildlife. Opportunities have been identified at school grounds, cemeteries, hospitals, golf courses and public parks and sites currently designated for conservation including Local Nature Reserves and Wildlife Reserves.

Image: Buglife

The John Muir Way is a 134 mile long opportunity for creating and connecting important grassland meadows for pollinating insects and other wildlife.  

Suzanne Burgess, Conservation Officer with Buglife, said: “By identifying and mapping these new opportunities this will aid in the future development of projects that will provide real benefits to our declining populations of pollinating insects of bees, wasps, hoverflies and butterflies, as well as other wildlife that these habitats support.”


Nature meets new technology as wildlife challenge goes mobile! – Surrey Wildlife Trust

Image: Surrey WT

Image: Surrey WT

Nature lovers can now have wild inspiration at their fingertips as Surrey Wildlife Trust launches its new 30 Days Wild mobile phone app.

The free 30 Days Wild phone app offers users more than 100 ‘Random Acts of Wildness

The Trust is urging everyone to get outside and go wild this June by taking part in its 30 Days Wild challenge. The initiative is backed by new research that proves contact with nature really is good for our mental and physical wellbeing.

The free 30 Days Wild phone app offers users more than 100 ‘Random Acts of Wildness’ - simple actions people can take to help or connect with nature during the month of June.

“We’re really excited about getting people of all ages across Surrey engaged with nature every day in June – whether you take time out to smell a wild flower, listen to birdsong, go pond dipping or explore a wild place,” said Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Magowan. “This new app makes it so easy – you’ll never be short of ideas!”


Critically endangered mussels moved to ark facility – North York Moors National Park Authority

Vital work to safeguard Yorkshire’s last remaining population of freshwater pearl mussels (FPM) was carried out last week on the River Esk.

Twenty adult mussels were taken from the River Esk to a special captive breeding facility at the Freshwater Biological Association in the Lake District. This captive breeding facility provides an ‘ark'  to conserve dwindling populations of the freshwater pearl mussel and to rear juvenile mussels through captive breeding for reintroduction to their native rivers.

Further details of the captive breeding facility can be found here: https://www.fba.org.uk/ark

The River Esk is the only river in Yorkshire with a FPM population. The population is estimated to be comprised of approximately 1,000 individuals and is in drastic decline. Pollution, choking of the river bed by sediment build up, a deterioration in fish numbers and habitat degradation are all reasons for the FPM population decline.

Simon Hirst, River Esk Project Officer with the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “Hopefully the adult mussels will breed in the Lake District, and in seven or so years we will be able to re-introduce these mussels back to the River Esk. FPM are an important indicator species; if we get conditions right in the river for them, it will have positive knock on benefits for a range of other wildlife such as otters, Atlantic salmon, dippers and kingfishers.”


#2 minute litter pick – Dartmoor National Park Authority

Image: Dartmoor NPAThe Ranger team at Dartmoor National Park have recently joined forces with the local charity #2 minute beach clean to bring their very successful global litter campaign inland.

Image: Dartmoor NPA

Bude resident, Martin Dorey, started the movement a couple of years ago after becoming frustrated by the amount of litter on our beautiful south west beaches. His aim was to encourage visitors and locals to take pride in their surroundings, raise awareness of the litter problem and to be proactive in dealing with the detritus.

The solution was a very simple idea - place large A frame boards, with litterpickers, at various beachside locations and ask people to take 2 minutes of their day to get involved and litter pick the beach.  By only asking for 2 minutes of their time it wasn’t a massive intrusion on their day, but, with thousands of people visiting the beaches, all of those 2 minutes would soon add up.


A greener, cleaner and secure energy future for the UK - RSPB

Using pioneering mapping approaches, the RSPB has assessed whether the UK’s 2050 climate targets can be achieved using high levels of renewable energy whilst avoiding sensitive species and habitats

Wind turbines are just one renewable technology that could power the UK (Image: Mark Hamblin)This new research shows that the UK has the potential to deliver up to four times the UK’s current energy consumption from renewable sources with low risk to wildlife

Wind turbines are just one renewable technology that could power the UK (Image: Mark Hamblin)

The RSPB says the transition to renewable energy must be backed by better use of spatial planning to avoid conflicts with nature conservation, major progress in key areas such as energy efficiency and low carbon innovation, and investment in better ecological data 

Their new report ‘The RSPB’s 2050 Energy Vision’ outlines three potential long-term energy scenarios that meet the UK’s climate targets in harmony with nature, as well as ensuring energy security and affordability

The RSPB has developed ten recommendations for how this energy future could be achieved, and is calling on governments across the UK to follow its recommendations to ensure wildlife is protected in the UK’s low carbon transition

The report is available on the RSPB’s website at www.rspb.org.uk/energyfutures  


Scientists talk sense on moorland fires, says BASC

BASC has welcomed a scientific report published by Swansea University which calls for sensible discussion over the use of fire to manage moorlands.

Image: BASCImage: BASC

The paper, ‘The role of fire in UK peatland and moorland management’, has been co-authored by leading international experts on land management and published in the peer-reviewed Biology Journal of The Royal Society.

It cautions against polarisation by using unbalanced and unsupported reporting of data, while suggesting informed debate based on weight of evidence could lead to improved land management.

Tim Russell, BASC’s director of conservation, said: “This paper is very reasonable and its balanced content is a welcome addition to the ongoing debate about the management of moorlands, particularly those used for grouse shooting.

Read the paper here: Davies, G. M. et al (2016) The role of fire in UK peatland and moorland management: the need for informed, unbiased debate. Philosophical Transactions B. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0342


Scientists provide native willows for arboretum at Heartwood Forest - Rothamsted Research

Willow breeders at Rothamsted Research source native species from the National Willow Collection to plant at new arboretum  

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have selected nine species of willow, native to Britain, to plant in an arboretum at the nearby Heartwood Forest. Owned by the Woodland Trust, the 350-hectare Heartwood forest includes a ten-hectare arboretum in which local volunteers have planted around 60 native species of trees and shrubs. Identifying species is notoriously hard in willows, and willows sold by plant nurseries are often hybrids rather than pure species, lacking the guarantee of UK origin that the Woodland Trust requires. To find native British species to plant, the volunteers contacted the willow scientists at Rothamsted Research, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The scientists selected willows and made cuttings from the National Willow Collection at Rothamsted Research, which is one of the largest collections of willow in the world and is part of the ‘Cropping Carbon’ programme at the Institute. The team chose nine species, including the eared willow (Salix aurita) and the bay willow (Salix pentandra). The volunteers planted the cuttings in the arboretum in March and they are sprouting vigorously.


Keeping the wild in wildflower - Plantlife

Why Plantlife is urging caution when sowing wildflower seed in the countryside

Ragged-Robin (image: Beth Halski, Plantlife)Ragged-Robin (image: Beth Halski, Plantlife)

The headline-generating declines of bees, butterflies and birds have caused many look and wonder what we can do to help our green countryside. 

But therein lies the problem. It's unnaturally green - with little colour from wild flowers.  

And it is the decline of wild flowers that lies behind the plummeting numbers of pollinators and farmland birds.  

Many landowners, keen to do their bit, reach for the wildflower seed mix. And, in the short term, sowing nectar or seed mixes can support some ailing populations of wildlife. But, argues Plantlife, this is more like providing a quick sugar hit rather than a healthy long-term diet for our countryside:

  • Sowing generic wildflower seed mixes does little to conserve wild flowers
  • In some places, it can even be bad news for our native flora, threatening the natural genetic variation of our flora and the distinctiveness of local landscapes
  • The quick-fix solution of seed mixes doesn’t deal with the underlying causes of wild flower decline. 

This May, Plantlife is sending their new guidance to hundreds of organisations, businesses and landowners across England, Scotland and Wales with a plea for a more balanced approach to managing the countryside and the health of our wildlife.

Dr Trevor Dines sums it up: “It's simple really - it's about achieving conservation for all nature. In our rush to save wildlife, we sometimes forget that our wild flora is an integral part of that wildlife. To relegate wild flowers to a simple nectar or seed mix is to miss the point that they are as much a part of our natural and cultural heritage as butterflies, birds and bees, and deserve as much respect. For example, there is a world of difference between enjoying otters in your local zoo and a chance encounter with them in the wild; there’s also an inherent magic in stumbling across an unexpected drift of Ragged-Robin and orchids in a wildflower meadow that you just don’t get if these things are planted.

Plantlife is not advocating no wildflower seeding but simply taking a more balanced approach. 

Read the guidance and access the policy advice.  


Adventure through the forests on Forestry Commission England’s new wild running trails - Forestry Commission 

Forestry Commission England is launching a pilot series of off the beaten running routes as part of their on-going partnership with Sport England. The 5 and 10k trails have been mapped at 4 sites by wild running enthusiasts and authors of guidebook ‘Wild Running’ Jen and Sim Benson, allowing visitors to adventure into the woods and go wild.   Whilst many visitors use their local forest for running, until now Forestry Commission England has not developed any specialised running trails. Using insight from England Athletics to understand the motivations of different types of runners, these trails have been specifically designed for those who actively seek escapism and are driven by a sense of freedom.

The routes are available from the Forestry Commission England website where readers can view maps, print directions and upload a .gpx file to their GPS device if they wish. The site also has a wealth of other information including top tips, the benefits to running in the forest, playlists and top trails for running.
Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/wildrunning for further information and to see the routes.  


Icelandic Killer Whales Spotted in the Moray Firth! - Sea Watch Foundation

It’s a very special time of year for a group of dedicated wildlife enthusiasts in the North of Scotland. Volunteers for the research charity Sea Watch Foundation are conducting their annual ‘Orca Watch’. Carefully planned to coincide with a yearly arrival of orca (more commonly known as killer whales) in the Pentland Firth, the team are poised to collect data about whales, dolphins and porpoises that utilise the waters in front of them.

This year there has been an unexpected turn, with a group of six killer whales also showing up at the same time in the Moray Firth, some 60 miles south of the strait that divides Orkney from mainland Scotland.

Orca 993 is amongst the group of Icelandic killer whales photographed in the Moray Firth. (Photo by Pippa Low, North 58° Sea Adventures via Sea Watch)Orca 993 is amongst the group of Icelandic killer whales photographed in the Moray Firth. (Photo by Pippa Low, North 58° Sea Adventures via Sea Watch)

The animals were spotted just after 5pm on Monday evening by Sea Watch Regional Coordinator, Alan Airey. Alan is no stranger to recording some of the more striking whales and nimble dolphins as he regularly provides data on bottlenose dolphins using the area as well as minkes and occasional humpback whales. On this occasion, Alan was able to notify other observers over social media and local wildlife trip boat operator, North 58, was able to head to the area to check out the action.

Having seen the photographs on Facebook, the Icelandic Orca Project commented to say that this may well be the furthest south along the East coast of the UK that killer whales from the Icelandic population have been recorded; this was later confirmed in email correspondence with Sea Watch’s Sightings Officer, Kathy James.  “Although this sighting is now the furthest south that individuals from the Icelandic population have been confirmed, other killer whale sightings have occurred in the Moray Firth and further south on many occasions. It may well be that amongst these, were unidentified Iceland killer whales. One must remember that clear photographic evidence is required to recognise individual orcas” says Kathy.

“We don’t know very much about the movements of killer whales around Britain. Members of a pod that has numbered up to fourteen can be seen annually around the Hebrides of west Scotland, mainly in summer.” added Dr Peter Evans, Founder and Director of Sea Watch.


Remember the farm for £1 offer from National Trust?

Wannabee shepherds flock to get glimpse of Parc Life - National Trust

Hundreds of applicants hoping to secure a unique £1 tenancy offer at the National Trust’s 145-acre coastal farm in North Wales will have their first chance to explore the landscape, buildings and their new potential home today (Wed 25/5).

The conservation charity’s announcement that Parc Farm on the Great Orme in Llandudno would be let for less than the cost of two second-class stamps sparked international interest and thousands of enquiries from across the globe.

National Trust General Manager William Greenwood said: “The volume of interest has been incredible. People clearly want to give nature a helping hand and ensure this special place is healthy, beautiful, rich in wildlife and culture and is enjoyed for ever for everyone. It seems to have really caught the public’s imagination, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming some of those potential applicants to Parc Farm for the official viewing day today, to give them a taste of just what that one pound buys.”

Soon after the announcement last Wednesday the National Trust switchboards were jammed by wannabe shepherds, and staff in Wales offices were dealing with more than 100 enquiries an hour. The incredible life-changing opportunity captivated people from as far away as Australia, Brazil and Tokyo.


Launch of our 2016 Park Protector Award - Campaign for National Parks 

Once again, to celebrate and support the fantastic work being done in National Parks, we are launching our Park Protector Awards, supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust.

We’re giving heritage lovers, environmental groups and conservationists the opportunity to win a £2000 bursary and recognition for their work if they are delivering projects, campaigns or activities in one or more of the National Parks in England and Wales. Entries should either conserve or contribute to the biodiversity of an area, restore the natural or built heritage or successfully protect a region.

To win the award, you need to: demonstrate impact, excellence in management and delivery, innovation such as using new technologies, engagement of volunteers and development and dissemination of best practice.

Fiona Howie, our chief executive said “Throughout our National Parks there is fantastic work taking place and by people who love the Parks. This is a great opportunity for organisations to promote and showcase the projects that make our National Parks so special.”

The nominations are open until Sunday 3 July 2016.

Find out more and enter here. 


Natural England is now blogging - Natural England

Natural England has launched a new blog to give readers insight into its work.  

Whether it’s opening up a stretch of the England Coast Path, protecting pollinators, or conducting research on the dormouse, Natural England helps to protect England’s nature and landscapes for people to enjoy.

Staff are involved in wide-ranging work, from managing England’s 140 National Nature Reserves and designating National Parks, to working with farmers on agri-environment agreements and issuing licences to protect species like the great crested newt.

Through the blog, staff will share updates about this work and stories from out in the field.

Andrew Sells, Natural England’s Chairman, said:

Natural England is full of passionate people and I’m constantly impressed by the stories our staff have to tell and the vital work they’re involved in. Natural England’s world is wonderfully diverse and this blog is a great way to share it. 

Find the blog here.


Beavers released at secret Devon location - The Wildlife Trusts

Two beavers have been released to join an existing wild colony on the River Otter in Devon. This successful - and sanctioned - release is a crucial progression in the story of England's wild beavers. The new arrivals will add to the genetic diversity of the existing wild population.

Beaver release (c) Nick Upton/naturepl.com via The Wildlife TrustsBeaver release (c) Nick Upton/naturepl.com via The Wildlife Trusts

England’s only breeding wild population of beavers has grown thanks to the release of two further animals at a secret location in East Devon.

One adult female and one adult male beaver were released on Monday evening on private land close to the River Otter. The release was sanctioned by Natural England and was made by Devon Wildlife Trust as part of the River Otter Beaver Trial – a five year project being led by the charity which is studying the impact of England’s only wild beaver population.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Peter Burgess oversaw the operation and explained why the release of more beavers was made:
“There are already 12 beavers known to be living on the River Otter. Our DNA analysis has shown that these animals are closely related to one another. The genetic diversity of the beavers needed to be increased to ensure that we have a healthy population. So tonight’s release was a crucial and exciting next step in the story of reintroducing this keystone species back to the wild, restoring our river catchments. We’re very happy with how it went.”

Follow the progress of the beavers and see video footage of their release at the Devon Wildlife Trust website


New Forest School launched in an unusual location - Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

A new Forest School has opened this Monday on the site of Hope Construction Materials’ cement works in Hope, a location most people may be surprised by.

The cement works has operated here for over 86 years but the company also has a leisure area alongside the Works including a golf course, fishing lakes and social club, as well as the woods where the school was launched. The Forest School’s location next to an operational industrial site does not detract from the beautiful birdsong you can hear at the outdoor classroom onsite!

The Forest School sessions are all run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and as a result the site will becomes the Trust’s most northerly education centre. Demand is so high that all the school slots are already oversubscribed, showing the thirst for outdoor learning and a reconnection with nature.

Keith Rowland, Quarries Manager at Hope Works added: “We already have an active and far-reaching community relations programme and a long-term partnership with the Wildlife Trust. Our wooded area gave us an opportunity to do something about the disconnection between children and the outdoors. 


Handover of Eye Green nature reserve - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

From 5 September 2016 the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire will no longer be managing Eye Green local nature reserve.

 The wildlife value of the site has been, and will continue to be, diminished due to an increase in housing development close to the site.

We do not receive a financial contribution from the owners (Peterborough City Council) towards the management. Due to the cost of managing the site, including the management of antisocial behaviour on the reserve, we have taken the decision to surrender our lease. As a local charity we have to focus our limited resources on the areas and projects where we can best protect and enhance the local wildlife and environment in and around Peterborough.

We are working with Peterborough City Council to ensure a smooth transition and we will help them to work with the reserve wardens and the local community to manage the nature reserve in the future.
We will continue to undertake surveys for important local species such as water voles in the wider area. 


Project Wolf’ helps restore Highland woodland - Trees for Life

Project Wolf – a unique new conservation programme in which volunteers replicate the natural disturbance effects of Scotland’s extinct predators – has been launched in the Highlands near Loch Ness by Trees for Life. 

Project Wolf is being trialled at Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston. It involves volunteers operating in teams of three ‘wolves’, regularly walking through the ancient woodlands during the night and at dusk and dawn, creating disturbance that will keep deer on the move.

“Grazing pressure on young trees by too many deer, today undisturbed by natural predators, is the major threat to Scotland’s native forests. This is starkly apparent in the surviving Caledonian Forest, where many remnants consist only of old and dying trees because young trees cannot survive the relentless browsing,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder. “Project Wolf – an innovative answer to this challenge – is supporting our reforestation work by creating a ‘landscape of disturbance’. By walking through Dundreggan’s woodlands at unpredictable times, the volunteers mimic the effect of wolves in keeping deer on their toes and less likely to spend time leisurely eating seedlings and young trees. This will encourage new trees to flourish – giving them the chance to form the next generation of forest giants that are desperately needed if the Caledonian Forest is to survive.”

“Project Wolf is backed by a growing body of research which shows that predators have a much wider impact on their prey than just the animals they manage to hunt and kill. In many ways, the fear that the presence of predators generates in prey animals is just as important as their direct impacts,” said Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Operations Manager at Dundreggan. 


Sustrans to distribute over £18 million to help deliver 150 cycling and walking projects across Scotland

New infrastructure to help people of all ages and abilities make more journeys by foot and bicycle is to be created throughout Scotland. 

The measures will be delivered thanks to funding from the Scottish Government; involving a partnership of local authorities, government agencies and charities. More than 150 projects will be funded in an ongoing and long-term effort to enable more people to choose to walk and cycle more often. 

The projects include bold initiatives to overcome significant barriers such as dangerous junctions and busy roads.  Innovative solutions to smaller obstacles to navigating our streets and roads are also an important part of the programme.  These improvements will make it easier for people to be more active and choose to cycle or walk for every day journeys - bringing significant benefits to health and well-being as well as helping to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions.

The funding is administered by the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, through their Community Links programme.  Over 50 organisations including all 32 Scottish local authorities, National Parks, Community Trusts, the NHS and Scottish Canals submitted applications for proposed projects and have been informed of their success.

In total, Sustrans will award over £18 million through the Community Links programme during the coming financial year.  Applicant organisations have to match fund the allocation from Sustrans – and often invest more – resulting in a total of £41.5 million to be invested in cycling and walking projects.


New guidance supports tidal energy and helps protect wildlife - Scottish Natural Heritage

Guidance for those assessing the risk of marine wildlife colliding with underwater turbines has been published today (Thursday) by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

SNH has produced the guidance to help developers, consultants and regulatory bodies, to promote a standardised approach to collision risk assessment for tidal energy projects.

Developers can be asked to include a collision risk assessment as part of their Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitat Regulations Appraisal. The guidance includes three models which can be used to estimate the number of animals likely to collide with tidal arrays.

Dr Chris Eastham, marine renewables adviser for SNH, said:  “High energy tidal environments are ideal for renewable energy projects, but they are also important for a wide range of marine wildlife, from mammals and fish, to diving seabirds.  Tidal turbines pose a collision risk to wildlife and it’s important to understand the degree and extent of this risk. We’ve still much to learn about the ways animals react to turbine arrays in our seas and the whole topic of assessing the risk of collision is still in its infancy. This guidance will provide greater confidence in impact assessments and help protect our marine wildlife”.

Assessing collision risk between underwater turbines and marine wildlife is available on the SNH website


Herefordshire Wildlife Trust take on traditional wildflower meadow as their newest Nature Reserve

Little Marises meadow, image: Herefordshire Wildlife TrustLittle Marises meadow, image: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

Known as ‘Little Marises’, the flower-rich meadow lies between two existing nature reserves – Cethins Meadow and Canon Tump Common – in the Black Mountains Valley, near to Michaelchurch Escley. The meadow is filled with wild flowers in early summer, such as common spotted orchids, ox-eye daisies and eye bright. It is also a wonderful place to spot meadow butterflies and day-flying moths.

The meadow is just under two hectares and is divided into two fields by a traditional hedgerow and mature trees. It also includes the source of the Slough Brook; just a trickle through the meadow.

Sites like this are hugely important as the UK has lost around 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1940s. These meadows are created though being managed traditionally – cut for hay annually then grazed with sheep or cattle – rather than being ‘improved’ with fertilizers which creates a more uniform pasture with one or two grass species and few, if any, flowers. This management, which will be continued by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, allows a diversity of flower and grass species to thrive which in turn allows insect, small mammal and reptile species to flourish. These animals provide food for birds and larger mammals while the surrounding hedgerows and trees provide their shelter.

The meadow was purchased by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust in May 2016, with funds from the Herefordshire Conservation Development Trust. 


Blanket bog restoration project scoops major European conservation award - RSPB

Dovestones Reservoir from Alphin Hill (image: Ian Roberts, RSPB)Blanket bog restoration project scoops major European conservation award

Dovestones Reservoir from Alphin Hill (image: Ian Roberts, RSPB)

Dove Stone in the Peak District has been awarded the Natura 2000 Conservation Award in recognition of the work to restore threatened blanket bog habitat

The RSPB and United Utilities have been awarded the 2016 Natura 2000 Nature Conservation Award for an ambitious habitat restoration project at Dove Stone in the Peak District. 

The project, ‘Demonstrating Success in Blanket Bog Restoration’, is aimed at restoring around 2,500 hectares of moorland back to natural blanket bog, an international scare habitat, with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.  Since 2010, the RSPB and United Utilities have worked to restore blanket bog at Dove Stone in partnership with tenant farmers. The project involves planting vegetation on large areas of bare peatland, including planting over 70,000 individual handfuls of sphagnum moss, and repairing eroded gullies.  

Dave O’Hara, the RSPB’s Site Manager at Dove Stone, said: “We are delighted to have won the Natura 2000 Conservation Award but it’s important to say that it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our dedicated volunteers. Although this is a European award, this is a very local project, which has depended on the dedication of local people who have braved the elements week in, week out to help start to return this part of the Peak District to its former glory.”

Ed Lawrance, Wildlife Warden at United Utilities, said: “It’s wonderful that the project has been recognised in this way.  I think the judges were genuinely impressed at the success of the partnership and the commitment of all those involved. Not only that, we’ve demonstrated what can be achieved thanks to all our volunteers and this success could be used as a template and replicated around the world.”


Scientific Publications

Setchfield, R. P. & Peach, W. J. (2016) The influence of crop tiller density on the breeding performance of a cereal-nesting specialist. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12704


Russell, D. J. F. et al (2016) Avoidance of wind farms by harbour seals is limited to pile driving activities. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12678


Hodgson and Koh: Best practice for minimising unmanned aerial vehicle disturbance to wildlife in biological field research. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.001 

Campbell Grant, E. H. et al (2016) Quantitative evidence for the effects of multiple drivers on continental-scale amphibian declines, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 25625 , DOI: 10.1038/srep25625

Clewley, G. D., Norfolk D. L., Leech, D. I. & Balmer, D. E. (2016) Playback survey trial for the Little Owl Athene noctua in the UK. Bird Study. DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2016.1180344


King, S., O'Hanley, J. R., Newbold, L. R., Kemp, P. S. and Diebeld, M. W. (2016), A Toolkit for Optimizing Fish Passage Barrier Mitigation Actions. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12706 


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