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


Now there’s even more of the Lake District to enjoy! - Lake District National Park

From today (1 August 2016), visitors will be able to enjoy even more of the Lake District National Park, as its boundary grows by three per cent – that’s an extra 27 square miles.

The new Lake District includes an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common to the east and an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, an area north of Sizergh Castle and part of the Lyth Valley to the south.

The Yorkshire Dales has also got bigger – by almost a quarter (24 per cent), taking the west of the park up to the Orton Fells, meaning the M6 motorway is now the only dividing line between the two national parks.

Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park, Richard Leafe, said: “Many people have campaigned for this extension for a long period of time, so this is an historic day for the Lake District National Park and one that deserves celebration. This extension represents unfinished business for the park and the new boundary line will be more fitting, following the natural landscape. This extension was largely supported by the communities, showing that there continues to be a high level of support and recognition for the good work that is done in national parks. We’re looking forward to maintaining and improving the environment in these new areas, particularly the rights of ways, creating even more of the Lake District for people to enjoy.”


Lakes to Dales extension official - Campaign for National Parks

From today (1 August 2016) the long awaited extension of the Yorkshire Dales to Lake District National Parks finally came into force. This is a fantastic day as we see new areas of National Parks protected for future generations.

We're absolutely delighted that today these extensions have finally come into force. These beautiful areas in the north of England were only excluded for administrative reasons and now have the protection they have always deserved. Not only that, but the new 188 square miles of National Park will also boost the local economy and visitors to the area. We’re looking forward to knowing that many years from now, people will still enjoy the beauty of these very special places.

We are very proud to have worked on such a fantastically successful campaign.

Ruth Bradshaw, our policy and research manager said, “The original National Park boundaries left some really beautiful, important countryside unprotected. It is wonderful that, following years of campaigning by lots of people, these areas have finally been granted official National Park status. Thank you to everyone who contributed.” 


Billions fewer plastic bags on the streets - Defra

Six billion fewer plastic bags taken home by shoppers in England and over £29 million donated to good causes thanks to 5p charge

Shoppers are set to take home around six billion fewer single-use plastic bags this year following the introduction of the 5p charge, early data published today indicates.

This is the equivalent to the weight of roughly 300 blue whales, 300,000 sea turtles or three million pelicans.

The charge has also resulted in donations of more than £29 million from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups.

Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment – experts estimate that plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds.

Over seven billion carrier bags were issued by seven main retailers in 2014, falling to just over half a billion in the first six months of the 5p charge for single use carrier bags introduced in October 2015.

The data has been published, along with guidance for the plastic bag charge.


Poll shows public is behind bag charge as bag usage drops dramatically in England - CPRE

Increased popular demand for raised funds to go to anti-litter initiatives

The huge fall in the use of carrier bags in England has been complemented by a notable increase in public support for the charge, according to the Break the Bag Habit coalition (BTBH) of anti-litter charities.

New Government statistics show that carrier bag usage in England has dropped significantly since a bag charge was introduced last October, with usage decreasing from 7.64 billion bags in 2014 to 0.6 billion in the six months between October 2015 and 6 April 2016.

BTBH’s recent poll, conducted by ICM, found that 70% of English respondents now find it reasonable to charge 5p for all carrier bags - an 8% increase in support in the eight months after the English charge came into force [3]. This increase was particularly marked amongst younger people, where support jumped 10%.

Since the English charge came into force, there has been some debate about how the funds raised will be used. Nearly three quarters of respondents to the ICM survey (74%) supported the idea of using the money specifically for a national anti-litter programme. This is a cause supported by BTBH. 


If you go down to the woods today - Butterfly Conservation

Wildlife lovers are being asked to head into the woods this summer to help chart the progress of an unprecedented butterfly success story.

The Speckled Wood has experienced an extraordinary a 71% increase in distribution and 84% increase in abundance in the last 40 years as a result of the changing climate.

Speckled Wood (image: Ivan Lynas, Butterfly Conservation)Speckled Wood (image: Ivan Lynas, Butterfly Conservation)

This increase comes at a time when more than three quarters of UK species are in a state of decline with many widespread butterflies also experiencing worrying slumps.

The Speckled Wood’s extraordinary rise appears to be due to climate change. As the UK’s climate has warmed the butterfly has spread to colonise East Anglia, the Midlands and much of northern England.

The butterfly has also become much more widespread in Scotland where in the 1970s it was restricted to the mildest areas on the west coast and the Moray Firth.

As part of this year’s Big Butterfly Count, Butterfly Conservation and the Tree Charter, a campaign to help protect the UK’s woodlands and wildlife, are asking the public to look out for and record the Speckled Wood in our woodlands.

Results from the Big Butterfly Count will track the ongoing spread of the butterfly in the UK and help scientists to understand why the Speckled Wood has thrived when so many other species have seen their fortunes falter.

Woodland Counts will help Butterfly Conservation build a clear picture of the importance of these habitats to widespread species. 


Rural crime cost countryside £42m, says NFU Mutual

Rural crime remained broadly static in 2015 as farmers and police adopted high-tech security measures to tackle increasingly sophisticated thieves who are turning to computers rather than bolt cutters, reports leading rural insurer, NFU Mutual.

Its annual Rural Crime Report, published today, reveals that the cost of rural crime to the UK economy has now reached £42.5 million a year.

“We have seen a shift in the items being targeted at rural homes though; in the latest survey of NFU Mutual’s Agency network, the theft of garden equipment was cited as the biggest growing trend along with 4x4’s,” said the Mutual’s Tim Price.

In the survey of NFU Mutual Agents, the majority (65 per cent) also reported that thieves in their area are becoming more sophisticated in the way that they operate and cyber crime is also a growing concern amongst their communities.

"Their tactics now include cloning tractor identities, advertising non-existent machinery in agricultural publications and stealing the GPS computer systems which are a key part of modern farming. Farmers are having to regularly update security measures at considerable cost to keep high-tech criminals at bay. They are using Tracker devices on tractors, video and infra-red surveillance in their farm yards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers,” added Mr Price.


We want your views on Tidal Lagoon - Natural Resources Wales Consultation

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is asking for people’s views on further information submitted by the company behind the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Plc project would see a 9.5 km long sea wall built in Swansea Bay, between the Rivers Tawe and Neath. This will generate electricity and house a visitor centre and educational and sporting facilities.

But before it can be built, the scheme will need a marine licence from NRW.

The further information submitted provides details on how the scheme could affect fish and how those effects could be monitored and offset.

The Further Information documents can also be downloaded from our site.

The deadline for comment submission is September 16, 2016.


Life on the Edge – Newcastle University

How forest fragmentation is impacting on amphibian and reptile species

Breaking up the rainforest into small ‘forest islands’ means more species are being forced to live on the forest edge, prompting a decline in species sensitive to changes in light, moisture and temperature.

Studying over 100 species of reptiles and amphibians living in nine fragmented forest landscapes in Central and South America, scientists found that over 90% of all species were affected by the forest edge effect. While a small number of these actually increased in abundance Red-eyed Amazon tree frog (Newcastle University) (those already adapted to living at the forest boundary), the majority of species declined and the negative impact on them extended far into the forest interior.

Red-eyed Amazon tree frog (Newcastle University)

Large areas needed to counter 'edge effect'

Sampling in areas where the forests had been divided to make way for farming or roads, the research team led by Newcastle University, UK, showed the average ‘edge effect’ extended more than 250m into the forest. This means a forest island with a diameter of less than 500m would contain no viable ‘core’ area for many forest species.

Publishing their findings today (30 July) in the academic journal Biological Conservation, the research team – involving experts from Imperial College, the University of East Anglia and Colombia University - are calling for a new approach to forest conservation and management.

Read the paper: Schneider-Maunoury, L. et al (2016) Abundance signals of amphibians and reptiles indicate strong edge effects in Neotropical fragmented forest landscapes. Biological Conservation


New bug recorded for first time in Scotland - RSPB

Image: Andy HayImage: Andy Hay

A new bug has been officially recorded in Scotland for the first time after being discovered by an RSPB Scotland volunteer at the wildlife charity’s Insh Marshes nature reserve in the Highlands.

Psallus montanus is a species of plantbug, the females of which are black and red in colour, while the males are a duller black and brown. Bugs are an order of insects generally characterised by having two pairs of wings and piercing mouthparts.

Bob Fleetwood has volunteered at Insh Marshes for four years and routinely carries out survey work on the reserve. He found the female Psallus montanus while collecting and recording beetles and bugs from a birch tree.

Bob said: “Of all the bugs I came across that day, this one looked quite distinctive. As I’m still learning, I wasn’t 100% certain what it was, so I contacted the national recorder for terrestrial bugs, Jim Flanagan, who positively identified it as a female Psallus montanus. “ 


WWT welcomes new invasive species law – Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

A list of 37 invasive non-native plant and animal species including squirrels, a terrapin and a cabbage will be banned from being brought into the UK after this Wednesday – but only for as long as the UK remains in the EU.

Parrot’s feather, an invasive non-native aquatic plant, chokes up a pond at Llanelli Wetland Centre (WWT)Parrot’s feather, an invasive non-native aquatic plant, chokes up a pond at Llanelli Wetland Centre (WWT)

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) has welcomed the news because the EU list contains several species that are water-based, which allows them to spread easily and outcompete native British wildlife.

The water-based species include signal crayfish, Chinese mitten crab and water primrose which can grow aggressively and choke native water life of light, oxygen and space.

Invasive species cost the UK economy an estimated £1.7bn per year to control. Floating pennywort, which can grow 20cm a day, costs the economy £23.5m each year alone.

The EU Regulation comes into force in the UK on Wednesday 3 August. But it is not transposed into UK law so, as it stands, will cease to apply when the UK leaves the EU.


Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Wind Farms – APEM Ltd

Research co-authored by APEM’s head of ornithology tracked the movement of lesser black-backed gulls in and around offshore windfarms.

It used state-of-art GPS tags to show how the gulls, breeding at a protected site in Suffolk, used areas of sea where offshore wind farms already exist and where future developments are earmarked.

Image: APEM Ltd Image: APEM Ltd

Offshore windfarms are a key part of the government’s plan to obtain 15 per cent of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. It is therefore important to properly assess and quantify the impact that such developments could have on marine wildlife and habitats.

APEM’s chief ornithologist, Dr Mark Rehfisch, formerly worked with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) for 21 years. Whilst there he heard about advanced new bird tags developed by the University of Amsterdam and approached the university to help set up the research project.

The BTO tracked twenty-five birds in three consecutive summers and found that gulls visited offshore wind farm areas significantly more in some years than in others. In every year, birds spent more time in wind farms zones when their chicks were young than at other times in the breeding season.

Males also spent more time in wind farm zones than females later on in the breeding season, when chicks were growing bigger and more independent.

Dr Chris Thaxter of the BTO said: “These results indicate just how varied individual seabirds can be in their behaviour, and highlight the value of long-term tracking datasets in estimating potential impacts of offshore wind farms on seabird populations.”

Read the paper: Ross-Smith, V, H. et al (2016) Modelling flight heights of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Great Skuas from GPS: a Bayesian approach. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12760 


Echo templates aid mental mapping in bats – University of Bristol

Image: Device in action in Israel: The device in action in a park in Midreshet Ben Gurion, Israel. The echo catchment distances were greater in this corridor of boulders than in the corridor of vegetation in the Royal Fort Gardens, suggesting that bats can use boulders and other such landmarks for mapping. Vanderelst et al., eLife, 2016Image: Device in action in Israel: The device in action in a park in Midreshet Ben Gurion, Israel. The echo catchment distances were greater in this corridor of boulders than in the corridor of vegetation in the Royal Fort Gardens, suggesting that bats can use boulders and other such landmarks for mapping. Vanderelst et al., eLife, 2016

New insights into how bats recognise their surroundings to help them build mental maps have been revealed today [2 August].

Bats have excellent spatial memory, and navigate with ease to important locations including roosts and foraging grounds. But exactly how these animals recognise such places through echolocation – perception based on soundwaves and their echoes – is largely unknown.

New research from the Universities of Bristol and Antwerp, published in journal eLife, suggests the animals observe and remember templates to help form a cognitive map of their environment.

Dr Marc Holderied, Senior Lecturer in Biology at the University of Bristol, and senior author of the study, said: "When we visually recognise places, such as our living room or office, we identify and localise the various objects that make up the scene. Echolocation does not allow bats to do this, as the information it provides is more limited. We therefore wanted to discover how these animals recognise their locations differently to those with vision."

Read the paper: Vanderelst, D., Steckel, J., Boen, A., Peremans, H. & Holderied, M. W. (2016)  Place recognition using batlike sonar. E-Life. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.14188


From landfill to wildlife haven - Port Sunlight River Park celebrates second birthday - The Land Trust

70-acre space was transformed from a landfill site into a community park and wildlife haven by national land management charity the Land Trust. It opened to the public in August 2014 and has been maintained by North West charity Autism Together ever since.

Park warden Anne Litherland said that the achievements in the park’s first two years had been wide-ranging. “We wanted this to be a space for everyone and it’s incredibly encouraging to hear, through a Land Trust survey, that 95 per cent of people feel our new park has helped improve the local area and that over 80% said it brought the community together,” she said.

The park’s achievements, in its first two years: A new home for wildlife; An autism-friendly environment; A fitness and leisure destination; Regional and national recognition

Alan Carter, Director of Portfolio Management at the Land Trust said “We are so proud of how the River Park has flourished over the last two years, and how incredibly passionate local communities are about the park. It’s so encouraging to see it being so well loved and used by so many people, and it really does demonstrate how green spaces can have such positive impacts on local areas.”


Orkney goose management project enters final year - Scottish Natural Heritage

A project to manage resident geese populations in Orkney is set to enter its final year, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has confirmed.  The Orkney greylag goose adaptive management pilot allows local people to control the resident greylag geese population.   Licensed shooting takes place with experienced local guns in August and September before migratory birds from Iceland arrive in October. This helps keep the population down to reduce impact on farming while maintaining the species’ conservation interest.

Geese taken as part of the pilot project will continue to be recorded and numbers monitored in the summer. The aim is a sustainably managed goose population which generates income for local people.

Gail Churchill, SNH’s Orkney operations manager, confirmed: “We undertook this initiative in response to the concerns of local farmers and land managers. Over the last four years the project has managed to prevent the expansion of the population of resident greylag geese in Orkney which without the project shooting could be in the region of 50,000 birds. This active management work will help us meet our nature conservation obligations by maintaining a sustainable and stable resident greylag goose population. It has the support of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) who have been working closely with all of us involved in this new form of adaptive management control. This is the final year of the pilot project and at the end of this season the Local Goose Management Group will be reviewing it and identifying ways in which the population of greylag geese can continue to be managed sustainably.”


Record breaking breeding season for Kielder ospreys - Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Y3 First landing on the nest, photo Forestry Commission EnglandThe Kielder ospreys have had their most successful ever breeding season this year since they first began nesting at Kielder Water & Forest Park in (2009)

Y3 First landing on the nest, photo Forestry Commission England

Nine chicks have already fledged, beating 2014’s record of eight, with a further two more birds expected to take their first flights within the next week.

First to fledge was the chick ringed Y1 on 13 July from the nest known as 1A. Over the course of the following five days his brother and two sisters also flew for the first time. Since then, three birds have fledged from Nest 2 and two from Nest 3, bringing the total to nine. Two further juveniles are expected to fledge from Nest 4 shortly.

Philip Spottiswood, Forestry Commission Wildlife Manager said “We are all delighted that 2016 has been a record breaking year for Kielder’s ospreys, the young birds will help to ensure that this once rare species continues to recover in England. Thanks goes to the Forestry Commission’s Wildlife Rangers who have done so much to ensure prime nesting sites are available in Kielder Water and Forest Park.”


Nature makes us happier about our bodies - Anglia Ruskin University

Research shows enjoying the natural environment improves body appreciation

A new study shows that spending time in nature is associated with more positive body image.  The research, published by the journal Body Image and led by Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, involved 399 adults (199 women and 200 men) aged between 19 and 76 years old.
Previous studies have shown that people living in urban areas with more green space had significantly lower mental distress and higher life satisfaction compared to those living in areas with less green space.  Studies have also indicated that simply viewing images of nature can have positive physiological and psychological effects.
This new research found that adults who reported greater exposure to natural environments scored higher on a measure of body appreciation, which measures participants’ respect for their own bodies and their willingness to reject unrealistic ideals such as images seen in the media.
The study also found that adults who were more exposed to nature reported higher self-esteem and connectedness to nature, which measures an individual’s sense of “oneness” with nature.  Higher self-esteem and connectedness to nature, in turn, were also associated with more positive body image.


National Trust calls for major reforms of farming subsides post-Brexit to reverse the damage to the natural environment - National Trust 

The National Trust today (Thursday, August 4) called on government to put the recovery and future resilience of the natural environment at the heart of the funding system that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The conservation charity said reform was essential to reverse decades of damage to the countryside and the headlong decline of species.

Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the Trust, will tell an audience at the National Trust Theatre at BBC Countryfile Live that the vote to leave the European Union presents an urgent opportunity to shape a new and better system for stewardship of the countryside.

Helen Ghosh said: “Whatever your view of Brexit, it gives us an opportunity to think again about how and why we use public money to create the countryside we want to hand on to future generations. Unless we make different choices, we will leave an environment that is less productive, less rich and less beautiful than that which we inherited. Taxpayers should only pay public subsidy to farmers in return for things that the market won’t pay for but are valued and needed by the public. We may need some kind of transition period to get there but that means payments for goods that go beyond food production – for the wildflowers, bees and butterflies that we love, for the farmland birds, now threatened, for the water meadows and meandering rivers that will help prevent the flooding of our towns, and for the rebuilding of the fertility and health of the soils on which both nature and production depend. In the long run there’s no conflict between maintaining our ability to grow food and looking after the land and nature on which it depends. The first is utterly dependent on the second.  This is not just about the subsidy system but the way the market works. Farmers should get a proper return from retailers and food manufacturers.  If they are also producing clean water, unflooded streets or great holiday experiences, they should also get a proper return from the utilities or tourism industry. Farmers are key partners in finding solutions but this is too important to leave to governments and farmers to sort out between themselves. We would encourage ministers to now consult widely on the way we fund farming in a post-Brexit world and involve the public in the debate, along with organisations who have experience and insights to share.”


Reaction NFU response to the National Trust

The NFU has responded to the National Trust's view on a reform of farm support. 

NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “The picture the National Trust is trying to paint - that of a damaged countryside - is one that neither I nor most farmers, or visitors to the countryside, will recognise. 

"Farmers have planted or restored 30,000km of hedgerows for example and have increased the number of nectar and pollen rich areas by 134% in the past two years.  Farmers take their responsibilities as custodians of the countryside seriously and most visitors to the countryside will be enjoying the natural environment and appreciating the views of rural Britain which have been created by farmers – including many of the landscapes showcased by the National Trust.  In this debate we must not forget that food production is vital.  We should not be contemplating doing anything which will undermine British farming’s competitiveness or its ability to produce food.  To do so would risk exporting food production out of Britain and for Britain to be a nation which relies even further on imports to feed itself.  In our view, food security should be considered to be a legitimate political goal and public good.  British farmers are proud of the high standards of production, traceability of the food they produce and high animal welfare.  British food production is the bedrock of the food and drink sector – which is the largest manufacturing sector in the country contributing £108 billion to the economy and employing nearly four million people.  All our survey work shows that the British public wants to buy more British food and, interestingly, survey work also shows the British public believes farmers play a beneficial role in improving the environment at the same time.”


Reaction: The Wildlife Trusts call for a new Integrated Environment Policy

Stephen Trotter explains that Brexit offers us the opportunity to shape a better future for farming, nature and people

Dame Helen Ghosh of the National Trust made a speech which hit the headlines yesterday. At a time when we are facing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new approach to how we manage our land for the benefit of people and nature, her words are most welcome.

With the EU Referendum over, the challenges faced by the UK’s remaining wild places and species are as great as ever. It is therefore right that we have a national and public conversation about how to improve our natural environment. This conversation requires serious consideration of the principles which should replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in a few years’ time. Around 70% of the UK is farmed and £3.6 billion is spent on CAP every year in the UK, however less than 12% - around £600 million - is spent on environmentally beneficial activities.

The Wildlife Trusts movement stand together with the National Trust and many other British environmental organisations in seeking root and branch reform of the current agriculture policy.

Specifically, The Wildlife Trusts is calling for an Integrated Environmental Policy.


Reaction: Trust calls for a redesign of agricultural subsidies - Scottish Wildlife Trust

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is calling for a full reform of agriculture subsidies in Scotland, echoing calls made by the Director of the National Trust Dame Helen Ghosh. 

Scottish agriculture receives around £600 million in public support each year, the majority of which comes through the Common Agricultural Policy. However, only a small proportion supports healthy ecosystems and wildlife.  

The Scottish Wildlife Trust believes that a complete redesign of agricultural policy is required to ensure that public money provides benefits including long term improvements to habitat quality, increasing biodiversity on farmland and connecting habitats on a landscape scale. 


Hen harrier chicks tagged at home of UK Submarine Service - RSPB

Two young hen harrier chicks have been satellite tagged at an MoD base in Argyll as part of a national RSPB project to protect and conserve these threatened birds of prey.

The pair came from a nest of four young located at HM Naval Base Clyde’s high security Coulport site, which is the storage and loading facility for the UK’s Trident nuclear warheads. All four chicks were ringed and two, a male and a female, were tagged.

Female hen harrier flying low, Image: Graham Catley, RSPBFemale hen harrier flying low, Image: Graham Catley, RSPB

The satellite tagging was conducted as part of the RSPB’s part EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, an exciting five year programme of nest protection, monitoring, community engagement and investigations work to secure a future for these birds in Scotland and northern England.

The data gathered from the tags will be monitored, to see where the birds go and identify the areas where they are most at risk.

Sgt John Simpson, MoD Police wildlife crime officer, said: ““The Security at HM Naval Base Clyde that protects the Submarine Service also provides a sanctuary for hen harriers, the most endangered bird of prey in the UK. We understand that hen harriers are a necessary part of a healthy functioning countryside and are please we can play some part in helping to protect them.”

Blánaid Denman, manager of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, said: “We’re delighted to have worked alongside the MoD who have been monitoring and protecting this nest at Coulport. Given the parlous state of hen harriers in Scotland it’s fantastic to see an adult pair being able to safely raise four fit and healthy young chicks. Hen harriers travel widely outside the breeding season, so we’re waiting in anticipation for these chicks to spread their wings now, before being able to follow their lives and track their journeys around Britain and possibly beyond.”


Footage of urban otters proves that the once threatened creature is making a return to the City - Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Video footage, captured by local wildlife photographer Jack Perks, has finally proved what wildlife conservationists have long believed – that otters, so long absent from our county, are back on the River Trent and its tributaries close to Nottingham.

A report of an otter killed on the road at Burton Joyce at the turn of the year illustrated just how close they were to the city, but video footage captured by Jack Perks of Clifton using remote ‘trip’ cams, conclusively proves that they are present within the City boundary.

Speaking about the footage Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Head of Communications Erin McDaid said: “This is really exciting. We’ve known for a number of years that otters must be passing along the Trent and even through the City as they’ve recolonised parts of the county and other tributaries of the Trent, but to have footage of them within the City boundary is wonderful.”


Community woodland groups set to benefit from £70,000 in grants - Woodland Trust 

12 community groups across the North of England are celebrating the award of a grant from the Woodland Trust. The groups, which all care for local woods, will use the grants to support their work, recruit new volunteers and encourage more visitors.

The Trust launched a pilot in the spring as part of a £1.25m partnership with Nationwide Building Society to provide funding for communities to either establish new groups or help existing groups undertake greater care and maintenance of their local woods.

In total over £70,000 has been provided to applicants in the first round of grants, with a second window open until October, with groups able to apply for grants from a £79,000 pot of funding.

One group receiving a grant is the Experience Community CIC based in Huddersfield, which has received £9,583 to upgrade pathways through Tunnel End Woods near the village of Marsden to provide better access for wheelchair users, many of which get involved in conservation work in the woods too. 

Find out more about the groups receiving the grants.  


Pokémon-Go players could capture 400 years of wildlife sightings in 6 days, Dr Tom August blog for Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Pokémon-Go encourages millions of players to explore their local area collecting imaginary creatures. However, if the Pokémon they caught were instead observations of real species they could produce more wildlife observations in 6 days than have been collated over the past 400 years by naturalists.

(This figure is calculated using the number of estimated daily players in the USA (22 million), the estimated daily number of Pokémon caught (5), and the number of wildlife observations in GBIF (642 million). 642million / (22million * 5) = 5.8 days.)


Farming with nature reaps its rewards - National Trust 

National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards announced at BBC Countryfile Live 

Tregullas Farm, the most southerly farm on mainland Britain, was the winner of the National Trust’s first-ever ‘Farming with Nature’ award at its Fine Farm Produce Awards ceremony yesterday (Thursday 4 August). 

Against the stunning backdrop of Blenheim Palace, BBC Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison and Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, presented this special award to farmers Rona and Nevil Amiss in the National Trust Cookery Theatre at BBC Countryfile Live. 

“I am delighted that the Fine Farm Produce Awards have generated a special category ‘Farming with Nature’, making the link between award-winning production and the promotion and care of wildlife-rich farmland,” said Helen Ghosh. 

National Trust Food and Farming advisers across the country judged the producer who had shown greatest commitment to managing or restoring habitats, demonstrating best practice with soil and water and promoting farming and nature conservation.  

“The competition was extremely close but Tregullas Farm stood out,” said Rob Macklin, Head of Food and Farming for the National Trust. 

Just three years ago the award-winning ‘Farming with Nature’ Amiss family arrived at Tregullas Farm, perched on the tip of Cornwall. Already they’ve made a huge difference – farming closely with nature to create a healthy, productive and wildlife-rich environment.   As well as producing great meat, cereals, vegetables and eggs the careful way in which they work the land creates the perfect habitat for rare birds and plants, including Cornish choughs and wild asparagus.  

The annual National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards  celebrate the very best produce from the National Trust’s 1,500 tenant farmers and estates.   Rob Macklin, Head of Food and Farming added: “Now in its 11th year, our Fine Farm Produce Awards are setting an increasingly high standard for sustainable food production.” 

More about the farm here.


New seedlings from conservation expedition will replace Kent’s tallest tree - Forestry Commission 

Kent’s tallest tree, the “Old Man of Kent”, has been an iconic part of the Forestry Commission’s conifer collection at Bedgebury National Pinetum, near Goudhurst, Kent, and sadly it has now reached the end of its natural life and was felled on Wednesday 3 August.
Following Storm Katie on Easter Monday 2016, staff were saddened to find significant damage to the “Old Man of Kent”, a grand silver fir, Abies grandis. One of the tree’s three top branches was snapped off during the high winds, and closer inspection of the fallen branch revealed that it was diseased. A further independent survey by arboricultural consultants Sylvanarb revealed that the tree had severely decayed and was in poor physiological and structure condition.
Believed to be around 150 years old and standing at 50 metres tall, the tree which was part of the original Bedgebury estate plantings, has become well-known as Kent’s tallest tree and well regarded with great affection by Bedgebury’s many visitors and staff over the years.

Fortunately, a Bedgebury led team of conservation experts travelled to the Pacific Northwest coast of America on a collaborative seed-collecting expedition in 2015, which enabled them to bring back wild collected seed of Abies grandis (the “Old Man of Kent”). Some of these seeds have recently been successfully propagated, and these new seedlings will be used to replace the “Old Man of Kent”.


Issue of buzzard licence- Government response from Natural England

Natural England is providing further information regarding the issue of a licence for buzzard control.

We recognise the strength of public feeling following the decision to issue a licence to control up to 10 buzzards and we are providing further context to this case.

Wildlife licences are required from Natural England for activities that will disturb or remove wildlife or damage habitats and can be granted to prevent damage to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, property or archaeology.

So far this year, we have received over 5,500 wildlife licence applications covering a variety of species. In deciding whether a licence should be granted, all applications have to be assessed in the same way against the relevant policy and within the legal framework of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

We fulfill this role as a wildlife licensing authority, alongside the range of our statutory responsibilities as government’s adviser on nature conservation.

In assessing the buzzard licence application we took into account the legislative tests and policy guidance, the evidence received from the applicant, industry guidance and scientific literature. The application was rigorously assessed with input from specialists across our organisation.

As a public body, Natural England has to balance the public interest with the security of the individuals who apply for licences. In the interests of transparency, Natural England will shortly be making documents associated with the assessment and granting of this licence publicly available. These also include details about control methods, assessment and criteria under which the license has been granted. Any disclosed documents will be released in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and therefore some details, such as personal information, may be redacted.


Scientific Publications

Cheng, T. L. (2016) Efficacy of a probiotic bacterium to treat bats affected by the disease white-nose syndrome. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12757


Wilker, J. Rusche, K, Benning, A., MacDonald, M. A. & Blaen, P. (2016) Applying ecosystem benefit valuation to inform quarry restoration planning. Ecosystem Services. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.06.003


A. Kreiderits , A. Gamauf , H. W. Krenn , P. Sumasgutner Investigating the influence of local weather conditions and alternative prey composition on the breeding performance of urban Eurasian Kestrels Falco tinnunculus Bird Study  DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2016.1213791


Osnas, E. E., Zhao, Q., Runge, M. C. and Boomer, G. S. (2016), Cross-seasonal effects on waterfowl productivity: Implications under climate change. Jour. Wild. Mgmt.. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21124


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