CJS Logo & link to homepage

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


Further measures to eradicate bovine TB - defra

Farming Minister George Eustice announces new measures to tackle devastating disease

Further measures to tackle bovine TB in England were announced today as part of the government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the livelihoods of dairy and beef farmers.

Bovine TB costs taxpayers over £100 million every year and England has the highest incidence of the disease in Europe. In 2015 alone over 28,000 cattle had to be slaughtered in England to control the disease, causing devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities, where herds have often been built up on family farms over many generations.

The government’s strategy includes tighter cattle measures, improved biosecurity and badger control in areas where the disease is rife. Advice from the Chief Veterinary Officer makes clear that dealing with the disease in both cattle and badgers is essential to tackle the disease effectively. This strategy is already delivering results: we are on track to achieve TB freedom to more than half of the country by 2020—the first time anywhere in England will have this status.

New measures outlined today include:

  • Seven additional licences for badger control measures covering parts of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, with operations now underway.
  • A consultation on introducing further cattle measures including more sensitive tests for TB-affected herds in the High Risk Area, and increased surveillance testing for herds in the Edge Area.
  • A call for views on a more risk-based approach to TB testing of cattle herds in the High Risk Area.
  • New farm advice packs to help farmers affected by bovine TB to improve the effectiveness of biosecurity measures on their farm.
  • An updated online tool mapping the location of bovine TB incidents over the last five years to allow farmers to make informed decisions when buying livestock.
  • A consultation on introducing further measures for controlling TB in non-bovine animals.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: "Our comprehensive strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England is delivering results, with more than half the country on track to be free of the disease by the end of this Parliament. Bovine TB has a devastating impact on farms, which is why we are taking strong action to eradicate the disease, including tighter cattle controls, improved biosecurity and badger control measures in areas where the disease is rife. The veterinary advice and the experience of other countries is clear—we will not be able to eradicate this disease unless we also tackle the reservoir of the disease in the badger population as well as cattle."


There is a range of documentation and three new consultations published today across various section of defra. Details are gathered here.


Defra Policy paper: Advice to Natural England on setting minimum and maximum numbers of badgers to be controlled in 2016 

Download: Bovine TB: Setting the minimum and maximum numbers in licensed badger control areas in 2016 - Advice to Natural England (PDF) 

Updated Defra Research and analysis: Bovine TB: badger control policy value for money analysis 

Animal and Plant Health Agency analysis: Bovine TB: analysis of the effect of badger vaccination on incidence of TB in cattle

Download A descriptive analysis of the effect of badger vaccination on the incidence of bovine TB in cattle within the BVDP area, using observational data (PDF) 

Animal and Plant Health Agency analysis: Bovine TB: incidence of TB in cattle in licensed badger control areas in 2014 to 2015 

Download: Report of the incidence of bovine TB in cattle in 2014 - 2015 in Somerset and Gloucestershire exposed to 2 years of badger control (PDF) 

Defra / Natural England report: Bovine TB: authorisation for badger control in 2016

Download Badger control policy: value for money analysis 2016 (PDF)


Consultations, all close on 8 November

Bovine TB: controls in the High Risk and Edge Areas of England

Proposals to introduce enhanced bovine TB surveillance and control measures in the High Risk and Edge Areas of England.

Access consultation. 

Bovine TB: improving testing in the High Risk Area of England

Options for changes to the TB testing of cattle herds in the High Risk Area of England.

This is a call for views and, depending on the comments we receive, a formal consultation may follow.

Access consultation. 

Bovine TB: controlling bovine TB in non-bovine animals

Proposals to introduce more effective control measures to reduce the risk of TB in non-bovine animals.

Our proposals will help us to achieve national official TB-free status for England by 2038.

Access consultation.



New badger cull imminent: Wildlife Trusts call for end to flawed policy – Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (HWT) is opposed to the planned cull in south Herefordshire, as the evidence overwhelmingly supports vaccination of cattle over a badger cull.

The Trust, as part of the federation of Wildlife Trusts, understands the impact that TB has on cattle farmers but thinks that the cull is an inherently flawed policy. It is also a waste of public money that could be better spent in developing a vaccine for cattle. HWT will oppose any decision by Natural England to grant new licences for culling badgers and calls on the Government and the newly appointed Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsom, to overrule and reverse this decision immediately.

Andrew Nixon, Conservation Manager at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, says: “Herefordshire Wildlife Trust believes that the combined approach of cattle vaccination and badger vaccination is essential to combat Bovine TB. The evidence shows that badgers are not the primary culprits in the spread of TB in cattle: the primary route of infection is via cow-to-cow contact. Cattle are vital to the Herefordshire economy, and investment should be made in both vaccination routes – a badger cull diverts attention and funding away from the main solution.”

Opinion polls clearly show that the public is overwhelmingly against the killing of badgers. It is also extremely costly and poor value for money. The 2013-14 culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset cost the taxpayer more than £4.9 million in policing costs. This is equivalent to the annual salary costs of over 120 police officers over a two-year period.

Paul Wilkinson, head of Living Landscapes at the federation of Wildlife Trusts, says: “The results of the previous badger culls indicate that this policy is flawed and unsupported by the evidence. Culling has been shown to be more expensive, less effective than other Bovine TB (bTB) control mechanisms and the free-shooting of badgers has been shown to be an inhumane method of killing.”


Defra TB strategy announcement - NFU response
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Bovine TB remains a huge threat to beef and dairy farmers in large parts of the country. More than 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year because of it and nearly 4,000 herds that had previously been clear of the disease were affected by it. Farmers facing a daily battle against bTB in those areas that have been granted licences for badger control operations this year will welcome the news that finally action is being taken to tackle the reservoir of disease in wildlife in these areas. Today’s announcement means that badger control will now be taking place in ten per cent of the area where cattle are at the highest risk of contracting bTB. There is still a huge amount of work ahead to ensure the eradication of bTB from this country and I would like to take this opportunity to thank farmers for their continued support in working towards this goal." 


Now on with the rest of the news!

Conservation partnership unites to protect precious dune habitat in Sutherland from development - Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, BugLife and Plantlife

The Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, BugLife and Plantlife Scotland have come together to campaign against a proposal to build a golf course at Coul Links in East Sutherland. The four organisations are aghast at a proposal which would destroy one of Scotland’s last remaining undeveloped coastal dune habitats.

The partnership is highlighting its importance for wildlife and the fragility of its habitats, particularly its network of sand dunes and the sheltered areas between them that provide a home for a host of rare wildlife.

The partnership has written to the developers urging them to think again.

The partnership stated that it fully expects the government agency Scottish Natural Heritage to share its concerns about the proposal, and that it would make a full submission detailing its objections if the proposal goes forward into the planning process. 


Best year for Britain's rarest butterfly since 1930s - Butterfly Conservation

The once-extinct large blue butterfly, reintroduced to the UK in 1984, flew in its highest numbers for at least 80 years this summer, belying widely-reported warnings that 2016 could be the worst year on record for British butterflies.

Large Blue (© David Simcox, Butterfly Conservation) Large Blue (© David Simcox, Butterfly Conservation)

Thanks to meticulous conservation management, south-west England now supports the largest concentration of large blues known in the world. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Royal Entomological Society’s Daneway Banks and Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Green Down saw over 10,000 adult large blues in 2016 according to Professor Jeremy Thomas, chair of the Joint Committee for the Restoration of the Large Blue Butterfly – which equates to roughly 60% of the UK population. Together they laid more than a quarter of a million eggs on the abundant thyme and marjoram flowers.

This is no mean feat, for the large blue is the only UK butterfly species that is sufficiently threatened worldwide to be listed in the IUCN’s global Red Data Book, and our only one designated as an ‘Endangered Species’ across Europe. The success of the large blue reintroduction is due to the combined efforts of the Large Blue Project. As well as the Wildlife Trusts in Gloucestershire and Somerset, partners include Natural England, Butterfly Conservation, the University of Oxford and the National Trust.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s CEO, Roger Mortlock, says: “This is fantastic news for this globally endangered butterfly whose extraordinary life cycle makes its conservation very challenging. Scrub clearance and careful grazing of wildflower-rich grasslands is key to ensuring a future for this beautiful insect. This special management also helps a huge diversity of wild plants and other insects to thrive.”

Professor Jeremy Thomas (Chair of the Royal Entomological Society’s Conservation committee, Emeritus Professor of Ecology at the University of Oxford, and chair of the Joint Committee for the Restoration of the Large Blue Butterfly) said: "The success of this project is testimony to what large scale collaboration between conservationists, scientists and volunteers can achieve. Its greatest legacy is that it demonstrates that we can reverse the decline of globally-threatened species once we understand the driving factors."


Scotland’s Forests: Plan to complete devolution of £1bn forestry sector. – Scottish Government

The Scottish Government is seeking views on its proposals to safeguard the future of one of Scotland’s most precious assets.
The ‘Future of Forestry’ consultation confirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to keep Scotland’s forests in public ownership and enhance the sector’s economic, environmental and social benefits.
The forestry sector is worth £1 billion annually and supports around 25,000 jobs.
The Scottish Government is proposing:

  • The creation of Forestry and Land Scotland, which will focus initially on management and development of the National Forest Estate
  • A dedicated Forestry Division in the Scottish Government to take forward policy and regulation activities
  • Potential for expanding the remit of Forestry and Land Scotland in the future to maximise the benefit of other publicly-owned land
  • A new, modern legislative framework for the development, support and regulation of forestry
  • Priorities for cross-border arrangements that suit Scotland’s needs

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish forestry sector is at the heart of many rural communities, worth £1 billion annually and supporting 25,000 jobs. It also plays a pivotal role in tackling climate change, protecting and growing biodiversity, natural flood management and in improving general health and wellbeing across Scotland. Today (31/8), we are launching a consultation on plans to complete the devolution of forestry. The consultation responses will inform and shape our policy, supporting forestry as one of our most important natural assets for generations to come and ensuring that it continues to deliver for the nation and communities across the country.”

The consultation paper can be read in full.


A thrill for the shrill in Cardiff - Buglife

The Shrill carder bee, Bombus sylvarum, the UK’s rarest bumblebee, was spotted at an Urban Buzz site in Cardiff.

Sinead Lynch, Conservation Officer, Wales for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust has been working to conserve the Shrill carder bee in Wales. She said “The record of Shrill carder bee at Hendre Lake is a really exciting find. This species is very threatened in the UK and its distribution is very limited. It is a distinctive bee with a high pitched buzz, it seemed to be enjoying the abundant wildflowers around Hendre Lake” 


Deadline looms for nominations in 2016 UK National Parks Volunteer Awards – National Parks

Less than a month remains in which to nominate inspiring individuals, groups or projects for the 2016 UK National Parks Volunteer Awards.

The Awards are a way of thanking volunteers for the thousands of hours of service they offer up each year to help make the National Parks some of Britain's most treasured landscapes.

Nominations are being accepted in four categories – Individual, Young Person, Group, and Project. The group and project winners will receive a £1,000 bursary toward future volunteering efforts. The individual and young person winners will receive outdoor gear. Nominations are being accepted until midnight 23rd September 2016.

"The Volunteer Awards always stand out as one of the highlights of the year for us" said National Parks UK Director Kathryn Cook. “They afford us the opportunity to show just how grateful we are to all of our amazing volunteers for their selfless dedication and countless numbers of hours of hard work that they put in.”

The awards recognise the hard work of volunteers deemed to have gone above and beyond the usual expectations of volunteer service.

Nominate a deserving individual, young person, group, or project here. 


WDC picks up prestigious education award – Whale and Dolphin Conservation

WDC’s outreach and education work has been recognised at this week’s ASCOBANS meeting - a regional agreement by a range of nations regarding the protection of certain species of whale and dolphin.

The ASCOBANS Outreach and Education Award was presented to WDC CEO, Chris Butler Stroud, and recognizes the crucial role of education in motivating people to protect the natural world.

Education can increase public awareness the need and ways to conserve small species of whale and dolphin.  The award also highlighted WDC’s role as an international leader in educating and exciting people of all ages about whales and dolphins, and the organisation’s work to promote its core belief that whales and dolphins have the right to exist as nature intends, not as humans decide.

The awards panel commented; ‘Thanks to the work of WDC, more people are informed and perhaps motivated to protect the incredible whales and dolphins that make their homes across the world. Their dedication to creating a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free is admirable.’ 


It’s time to pick the nation’s ten favourite parks - Green Flag Award

It's time to launch the annual People's Choice award which officially opens today (1 September)  and gives the public a chance to vote for their favourite.

Whether it's a small local park, a large municipal park or a community garden - as long as it's a Green Flag Award winner you can vote for it.

But there is a difference this year as it is the 20th year of the Green Flag Award. There won't be one overall winner, there will be a top ten voted by the public along with a top five for Scotland.

Paul Todd, Green Flag Award manager said: "We all have a favourite park, whether it's our local green space or a special park we'll travel miles to visit. Following another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award, we are urging everyone to vote for their own favourite park, so we can put together a list of the ten most popular parks in the UK. It will be great to celebrate ten of the public's favourite parks and for them to become the People's Choice 2016." 

Carole Noble, Director of Operations at Keep Scotland Beautiful said: "Our judges have had the difficult task of deciding which parks will be granted the coveted Green Flag Award in Scotland but now it’s the public’s turn.  We know how popular the open spaces in our cities, towns and villages are, so we expect huge interest in the People's Choice Award.  This contest will see the best of Scotland’s parks up against others across the UK, so if you think your local park is deserving of national recognition – vote for it.  After all the hard work of those who maintain and improve our parks year after year, we hope that the country will want to get behind them.”   

Voting closes at noon on Friday 30 September. The ten most popular parks and green space in the UK will be announced in October.

To vote, simply go to www.greenflagaward.org, select your country or region on the interactive map, find your favourite park or green space, click on more details and click the 'vote for this site' button. 


Winning Schemes Plant More Trees in The National Forest – The National Forest

Four new woodland creation schemes have been awarded funding through the National Forest Changing Landscapes Scheme this year.  The National Forest Company Board met last month and approved the applications which will contribute nearly 9,000 trees and 5.5ha of new woodland and other habitats to the Forest.

The proposed schemes offer permissive access over almost 90% of their total area, along with a range of biodiversity and landscape benefits, linking into existing woodlands to contribute to woodland connectivity.

Simon West, Head of Forestry for the NFC, said: "We welcome these new schemes which add to the growing Forest cover within the 200 square miles of The National Forest, and deliver a range of community, access, landscape and wildlife benefits. Each scheme will also be eligible for the National Forest Carbon Scheme to draw in additional funds." 

Find out more about grants and funding sources.


New Forest fungi - a feast for your eyes – Forestry Commission

Fungi (image: Forestry Commission)Fungi (image: Forestry Commission)

This autumn, the Forestry Commission is launching a new campaign to highlight the importance of the New Forest for fungi, and to appeal to people to support a ‘no-picking’ code on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

There has been an increasing trend for foraging in recent years and this puts additional pressures on areas such as the New Forest. Due to the growing concern from conservation bodies and very real fears from members of the local community, the Forestry Commission is no longer permitting picking on any scale from the SSSI.  In previous years, a ban on commercial collection and a personal collection limit have been in place. For the first time, the Forestry Commission feels it necessary to take a precautionary approach and, with the support of partners aims to spread the message about just what a special place the New Forest is.

Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor for the Forestry Commission, explains: “We want people to get out into the Forest to enjoy the autumn spectacle of fungi, we just ask that they don’t pick. Fungi are great to admire and marvellously photogenic too.  By appealing for a no picking rule everyone can enjoy this seasonal display. The Forestry Commission will continue to review our position on fungi picking on the New Forest SSSI, taking advice from Natural England and other conservation bodies. We are working with partnership organisations to help develop national codes of good practice for foraging.”


LED-lighting influences the activity of bats - Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

The widespread replacement of conventional bulbs in street lighting by energy-saving light-emitting diodes (LEDs) has considerable influence on bats as urban nocturnal hunters. Opportunistic bats lose hunting opportunities whereas light sensitive species benefit. This was shown in a recent study by Christian Voigt and Daniel Lewanzik from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW).

Conventional high pressure mercury bulbs have a broad spectrum of wavelengths, including those in the ultraviolet range. As a consequence, insects are magically attracted to street lighting and indirect light spilling out from houses. Insects circle around lamps and often become victims of insect-eating predators. For instance, some light-tolerant bat species frequently forage on insect aggregations at lights; for them street lamps are a lit “buffet”. Yet, the new LEDs that are used in street lamps do not emit UV light; thus, insects ignore them. The scientists from IZW therefore studied how the increasing use of LED light bulbs may influence the activity of urban bats.

Previously, it was well known that opportunistic species such as pipistrelles and the common noctule tolerate light and hunt even in lit areas in cities at night. Light sensitive species that shun the light such as many mouse-eared bats mainly hunt in dark parks and forests.

Scientists installed bat recorders on 46 street lamps in six German cities. By recording echolocation calls of hunting bats, bat recorders automatically detect the presence of bats at conventional and LED street lamps.  The results were interesting: whereas the activity of the common pipistrelle diminished by 45 % near LED lamps, light sensitive species that usually avoid artificial light increased their activity by a factor of four-and-a-half. A few species such as the Nathusius pipistrelle were not affected at all by the reduced spectrum of wave lengths of the LEDs. “We therefore conclude that bats which are sensitive to light might benefit from the increasing use of LED, but opportunistic species will suffer from it”, says Voigt. The latter will probably have to travel longer distances in order to find sufficient food. One thing seems to be sure: Bats will adjust their foraging behaviour to the new situation and, therefore, the composition of species within local bat assemblages is likely to change in urban environments. “Both the use of LED lights and the change in activity of bats will have a substantial effect on insect populations, since bats are the top predators for insect populations in the urban environment”, emphasises Voigt.

Access the paper: Lewanzik D, Voigt CC (2016): White is not white: Pervasive transition from conventional to LED street lighting changes activity of urban bats. Journal of Applied Ecology; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12758.

Finding Risso’s dolphins – Natural Resources Wales

Work has started to monitor a unique species of dolphin off the North Wales coast.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is working with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation on a long term study of the Risso’s dolphin around Bardsey Island.

Risso's Dolphins around Bardsey island, image via NRWThis is one of only a few sites around the UK where the dolphins can be seen close to land.

Risso's Dolphins around Bardsey island, image via NRW

The two week monitoring programme, starting on Saturday 27 August, will provide experts at NRW and other organisations with valuable information about the dolphins’ feeding habits and social interaction  Their round heads and white scars tell them apart from bottlenose dolphins, and also helps with the monitoring work.

Ceri Morris, Marine Mammal specialist, Natural Resources Wales said: “Wildlife is an important part of our environment, our heritage and our culture in Wales and it is important that we monitor species like this to help protect them. Risso's dolphins generally prefer deep water where they feed on squid and octopus. So this area around Bardsey where they can be seen close to land is quite rare in the UK. Part of our monitoring work will include identifying individuals to see if they are returning to the same area, we can also find out if they’ve been spotted elsewhere.  All the information we gather will help us estimate how many Risso’s dolphins there are around Bardsey, and understand the importance of this area for breeding and feeding.”

Video footage of the dolphins playing can be seen on the NRW’s YouTube channel. 


Where is the Small Tortoiseshell this summer? – Butterfly Conservation 

Small tortoiseshell butterfly (image: Bob Eades, Butterfly Conservation)The beautiful Small Tortoiseshell is one of the most recognisable and widespread UK species and is a regular garden fixture in high summer.  But this year, numbers have been worryingly low as the cool spring and slow start to the summer appear to have taken their toll on the butterfly’s attempts to breed and feed. 

Small tortoiseshell butterfly (image: Bob Eades, Butterfly Conservation)

Small Tortoiseshell sightings are significantly down across the UK and gardeners are being asked to look out for the butterfly by joining the Garden Butterfly Survey, sponsored by B&Q, to help build a picture of what is happening. 

The Small Tortoiseshell has endured a tumultuous recent history. The butterfly, whose population has plummeted by 73% since the 1970s, had seen its numbers rise over the last few years and hopes were high that it was on the path to recovery.  But this summer’s poor showing could mean the Small Tortoiseshell is set for yet more years of decline.  

Butterfly Conservation Head of Recording Richard Fox said: “We don’t understand what is causing the drastic long-term decline of this familiar and much-loved butterfly. Theories involve climate change, pollution and parasitic flies that kill the butterfly’s caterpillars, but we need more information.


£1.44 million lottery funding will help endangered heathland wildlife – South Downs National Park

Ambitious work to restore and reunite areas of rare heathland in the South Downs National Park will start this autumn thanks to a £1.44 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

South Downs heaths are not only home to rare plants and animals – such as the sand lizard, woodlark and silver-studded blue butterfly – they are also important spaces for people. But heathland currently covers just one per cent of the South Downs National Park and has shrunk into ‘islands’ where isolated plants and animals are far more vulnerable to local extinction.

Natterjack Toad on Weavers Down (image: South Downs National Park Authority)Natterjack Toad on Weavers Down (image: South Downs National Park Authority)

Less than one per cent of former heathland remains in the National Park and what’s left is fragmented, reducing the diversity of plants and animals that make heaths both interesting and scientifically important.

The Heathlands Reunited project, led by the National Park Authority with 10 partner organisations, aims to create and improve heathland at 41 sites – covering an area greater than 1,200 football pitches over the next five years.

Bruce Middleton, Heathlands Reunited Project Manager, said: “Heathlands are ‘man-made’ and only exist because our ancestors used them to dig peat for fuel, harvest heather and graze animals, unwittingly creating a unique ‘mosaic’ of habitats which many plants and animals now can’t survive without. Without people working the ground our heaths have gradually returned to scrub leaving the wildlife trapped and vulnerable in a few remaining ‘islands’. A staggering 60 per cent of heathland species are dependent on bare, sandy, south facing ground. A key part of our work will be with the local people who use and enjoy the heaths, for example to get involved in scraping patches of bare earth or even encouraging communities to adopt and take responsibility for their heath.” 


Scientific Publications

Blicharska Malgorzata, Andersson Johan, Bergsten Johannes, Bjelke Ulf, Hilding-Rydevik Tuija, Johansson Frank, Effects of management intensity, function and vegetation on the biodiversity in urban ponds, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Available online 30 August 2016, ISSN 1618-8667, DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2016.08.012. 



CJS is not responsible for content of external sites.  Details believed correct but given without prejudice.

Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS.