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


British Wildlife Photography Awards

British Wildlife Photography Awards: The 2016 winning images are announced

The British Wildlife Photography Awards proudly announce the winners for 2016. The awards celebrate both the work of amateur and professional photographers and the beauty and diversity of British wildlife. Winning images are chosen from thousands of entries in fifteen separate categories including a special film category for Wildlife in HD Video and two junior categories to encourage young people to connect with nature through photography.

“I was working on a project to assess the current biological status of major sea caves around some of the UK’s most remote islands. At the end of one of the dives I was swimming back to the boat when I came face to ‘face’ with the largest jellyfish I’ve ever encountered. As I approached cautiously I noticed that a number of juvenile fish had taken refuge inside the stinging tentacles” George Stoyle.

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF-UK comments; "WWF-UK are delighted to sponsor the Coast and Marine category in the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016, celebrating the diversity, splendour and drama of UK wildlife. This year’s winning image [of a lion’s mane jellyfish] is a striking example of the natural beauty and variety of life we have within and around our shores, as well as the skill and artistry of our wildlife photographers. The photo exquisitely captures the voluptuous frills and folds, and kaleidoscope colours of this giant jellyfish. But it’s the jelly’s Piscean ‘stowaways’ that make this picture, a shoal of shimmering, glistening juvenile fish finding safe harbour amongst the tangle of tentacles."

BWPA Botanical Britain winner, Bird Seed by David Maitland 

Botanical Britain Winner: David Maitland
Bird Seed (Silver birch and Garden spider web) Norfolk, England. Sponsored by CJS.


Think you can match them? The 2017 British Wildlife Photography Awards will open in February 2017.

 See all the 2016 winners here.


Now on with the rest of the news 


Microbead ban announced to protect sealife - defra

Government announces plans to ban microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has announced plans to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing tiny pieces of plastic, commonly known as ‘microbeads’.

Each year billions of tiny beads end up in our seas from a range of products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels. These beads build up in the marine environment and can be swallowed by sea life, including fish and crustaceans.

The ban follows the successful introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to six billion fewer bags issued this year – and is the next step in government action to tackle plastic in our oceans.

A consultation will launch later this year with the intention to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads that harm the marine environment. At the same time, evidence will be gathered on the extent of the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products, before considering what more can be done in future to tackle other plastics, for example microfibers, which enter the marine environment.

Twenty-five UK cosmetics and toiletries companies, such as Unilever, have already taken steps to voluntarily phase out microbeads from their products. Waitrose has announced they will stop stocking such products by the end of September.

Government action will create a level playing field for industry, tackle inconsistency and stop new products containing tiny pieces of plastic from being sold in the UK.

Manufacturers are exploring natural alternatives, including nut shells, salt and sugar, which have the same exfoliating properties but do not pose a threat to the environment.

The government will consult industry, environmental groups and other relevant parties to establish how and when a ban could be introduced, aiming to change legislation next year.


Reaction: Government announces ban on microbeads - Joint NGO response, via MCS

A coalition of environmental groups has welcomed a government announcement that it intends to ban microbeads from personal care products but pointed out that the current proposals don’t go far enough.

Responding to the government’s announcement, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, Greenpeace, and the Marine Conservation Society said in a joint statement: “It’s encouraging to see that the government is taking people’s concerns about microbeads seriously, and it’s great that the scope of this consultation is so broad-ranging. However, we are disappointed that currently the proposed ban would not extend to all consumer products. “Fish don’t care whether the plastic they’re eating has come from a face wash rather than a washing powder. Once in the ocean, the microplastics in these products have the same damaging effects on marine life, so banning some but not others makes little sense. We will be urging Theresa May’s government to extend the proposed ban to all consumer products that could discharge microbeads into our seas. A comprehensive and consistent microbeads ban such as this would place the UK at the top table when it comes to global stewardship of our oceans, and really give us something to be proud of. Not only would a comprehensive UK microbeads ban be a significant step towards eliminating plastic pollution from our oceans, but it would also embolden other governments across the world to take steps against microbeads and other sources of plastic pollution. This is a global problem requiring global action."

“We look forward to contributing to this consultation, and fully expect to be welcoming a ban on all solid microplastic ingredients from all consumer products within the next few months.”


Top conservation players partner to identify the most vital places for life on earth - Birdlife

At the IUCN World Conservation Congress, eleven of the world’s leading conservation organisations, including BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), announced an ambitious new partnership to identify, map, monitor and conserve the most important places for life on earth.

No matter where we are from on this planet, we speak a common language: the language of nature. From Pacific reefs to Siberian tundra, nature is key to our lives, so it makes sense that this importance is recognised equitably worldwide.

Now, the environmental community speaks one new common language: KBAs, or Key Biodiversity Areas. This international language has more than 18,000 words already - that’s the number of KBAs identified to date. With more than US$15 million committed over the next five years, the Key Biodiversity Area Partnership will bring to life a new ‘gold standard’ for site conservation, with top conservation players working together to globally consistent criteria recognised by international conventions.

Through the KBA Partnership, resources and expertise will be mobilised to further identify and map Key Biodiversity Areas worldwide. Monitoring of these sites will enable detection of potential threats and identification of appropriate conservation actions. The Partnership will also advise national governments on expanding their protected areas network, and will work with private companies to ensure they minimise and mitigate their impact on nature.


Global warning: ocean warming - IUCN

As Edward Young, the 17th Century English poet, once famously said, “procrastination is the thief of time”. Never has that been truer than image: IUCNnow, when the nature and scale of the impacts from human activities on the ocean are considered, and the true costs of inaction to address them revealed.  

Image: IUCN

A new IUCN report, entitled Explaining ocean warming: causes, scale, effects and consequences, sets out the most recent and comprehensive review to date on this topic and shows a complex story of change in the ocean. This change is underway, often already locked in for many decades to come, and has already begun to impact people’s lives.  This is no longer a single story of ocean warming challenges to coral reefs, but a rapidly growing list of alarming changes across species at ecosystem scales, and across geographies spanning the entire world. It is pervasive change, driven by ocean warming and other stressors already operating in ways we are only beginning to understand, where essential gaps in marine data, systems and capabilities are leaving the world poorly prepared to cope in the future.

Ocean warming may well turn out to be the greatest hidden challenge of our generation. More than 93% of the enhanced heating since the 1970s resulting from human activities has been absorbed by the ocean, and data show a sustained and accelerating upward trend in ocean warming. The scale of ocean warming depicted in the report is truly staggering:  if the same amount of heat that has gone into the top 2 km of the ocean between 1955 and 2010 had instead gone into the lower 10 km of the atmosphere, the Earth would have seen a warming of 36°C.

Read the report here


Protect vanishing wildlife havens! New guide launched to help landowners - BBOWT

The Wildlife Trusts have published a new guide which highlights the vital importance of Local Wildlife Sites across the UK.

Meadow Farm, Local Wildlife Site near Bicester, part of the Upper Ray Meadows nature reserve. Pic Colin WilliamsMeadow Farm, Local Wildlife Site near Bicester, part of the Upper Ray Meadows nature reserve. (Pic Colin Williams)

Crucial but poorly understood and under-valued, these places are havens for some of our rarest habitats and species. Yet hundreds of them are being lost or becoming degraded every year.

Matt Jackson, Head of Conservation at Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust says: “In our patch hundreds of Local Wildlife Sites support the vast majority of our wildlife. They lack the status of national sites, but may have just as much wildlife value. We must value and protect our Local Wildlife Sites much more if we are to ensure a healthy future for a diverse and abundant range of wildlife.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ new guide highlights how important these places are.

Unlike Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Local Wildlife Sites are not protected by law and do not benefit from national recognition of their wildlife importance. This makes them vulnerable to neglect, mismanagement and the huge pressure for development across the country.

Access the guide here


New technology for remotely mapping beaches – National Oceanography Centre

Shells on a beach (Nartional Oceanography Centre)Shells on a beach

Science and industry will now be able to map beaches and sandbanks without getting any feet wet. This follows three years of collaborative research resulting in a new commercial licence between National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and Marlan Maritime Technologies to sell new coastal mapping technology.

The depth and pattern of sediment on the floor of the intertidal zones changes daily, yet understanding where this sediment resides is vital to being able to better manage coastal areas.
For example, knowing how beach sediment movement is influenced by coastal protection measures could help inform how effective they are relative to the investment. The improved understanding of long-term erosion could also benefit coastal town planning by monitoring areas at greater risk of coastal flooding. Furthermore, the data can provide advance warning of sediment transport into navigation channels allowing more effective use of survey and dredging vessels, this helps maintain ports such as Liverpool.
Currently these intertidal areas are mapped using satellites, lasers, cameras or wading into the water with a measuring stick. However satellite resolution is relatively low, laser surveys are expensive and cameras are limited in the distance they can observe and are only practical during daylight. This new radar-based technology enables high-resolution, low-cost remote mapping of the intertidal zone, continuously and over a long period of time without the need to get any feet wet.


Public parks face decline – Heritage Lottery Fund

New report from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) calls for collaborative national and local action to deliver new ways of funding and managing parks to avert a crisis

Today (7/9), HLF has published State of UK Public Parks 2016, its second report to comprehensively review the condition and management of the UK’s public parks.

An investment of over £850m of National Lottery money has played a vital role in ensuring more than 800 of the UK’s public parks are in better condition, with improved facilities and renovated historic features. However, with park managers reporting an expectation of further budget cuts, the benefits of this investment could be lost as the risk of decline and potential facility closures continues to grow.  

The report also outlines the continuing need to develop innovative mixed model approaches to funding parks, such as local authority commitment, commercial opportunities and fundraising, to avoid the risk of rapid decline.

Ros Kerslake, HLF Chief Executive, said:  “Put simply, parks are not a luxury. They are essential to our increasingly busy urban lives and thanks to National Lottery players they’ve never been in such great shape. But these are financially tough times and if we are to successfully halt the onset of decline in our parks and avoid wasting this investment, we need to come together now to find innovative and sustainable models of funding and maintaining these highly valued community spaces.”

Click through for key findings from the research, also responses from some of the major organisations

A more full research report is available on www.hlf.org.uk/ParksMatter


Response: Groundwork response to HLF Parks report

Commenting on the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) ‘State of UK Parks 2016’ report, Graham Duxbury, Groundwork UK chief executive, said: “The HLF State of UK Parks report makes sobering reading and should serve as a wake-up call for all those who care about the quality of life in local communities.  Councils and community groups across the country are working hard to preserve, maintain and improve the parks and green spaces that bring so many proven benefits, but the mantra of ‘more for less’ is reaching its limit, as is the capacity and appetite among Friends Groups to take on more.   We’re particularly worried about the fate of the many small, less formal neighbourhood green spaces that may not get the same attention and investment as large parks and gardens but which matter hugely to those who live nearby, particularly young people and those who are less mobile. "


The balance of GB wood supply and demand is changing - Confor

A new report into future wood fibre supply and demand in Great Britain (GB) paints a picture of short-to-medium term opportunity; however, longer term concern remains regarding the forecast balance between supply and demand.

The report, prepared by John Clegg Consulting Ltd on behalf of the forestry and wood-using sector, is based on updated forecasts of wood fibre availability published by the Forestry Commission and a survey of wood using businesses. The report shows, at the GB level, that the potential availability and demand of coniferous roundwood in Britain will continue to increase over the next 15 years.  Potential availability then falls back to its present level around 2035 before falling significantly below current levels until 2050 when it bottoms out, consequently demand could exceed supply by 2040. There are regional variations to this analysis, which are set out in the report.

Confor, UKFPA, WPIF and Forestry Commission jointly commissioned the report and welcome its publication as a valuable contribution to investment planning by businesses in the sector as well as a resource for policy makers thinking about how they can work with the sector.

 The increasing availability of wood in the short-to-medium term provides an opportunity for further growth in the forestry and wood-using sector through continued investment and innovation, supporting increased employment, especially in rural areas. However, there are challenges for the sector to maintain growth after the forecast of availability falls below current levels after 2035. This highlights the need for action to maintain the current forest resource and to add to it through new planting.

Download the report: Wood Fibre Availability and Demand in Britain 2013 - 2035 (pdf)


Manx shearwaters rescued by RSPCA after being blown off course - RSPCA

Two Manx shearwaters have been rescued from a Ceredigion village after they were blown off course.  The RSPCA has received several calls about the welfare of the seabirds following recent stormy weather.

Manx shearwater rescued at Tresaith Sept 16 (image: RSPCA)Manx shearwater rescued at Tresaith Sept 16 (image: RSPCA)

On Friday and Sunday (2 September and 4 September) RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Ellie West was called twice to the Ship Inn, Tresaith, to attend to two Manx shearwaters.

ACO West said: “The first young Manx shearwater was found in a distressed state, behind a stone plant pot. The second was found shuffling around in the car park and was again distressed. On both of these occasions I collected the sea birds and transported them to Gower Bird Hospital for an assessment and rehabilitation. There have been quite a few calls recently – it is just that time of year and the weather isn’t helping. If anyone does find one of these stranded birds, our advice is to stay at a safe distance as they have a sharp beak and to call us on 0300 1234 999.”

On Sunday six Manx shearwaters were also released back into the wild by Gower Bird Hospital, which included some RSPCA rescued birds that had been previously rescued.


Hedgehog sighting raises hopes of London comeback – London Wildlife Trust

Fast-declining nocturnal mammal spotted at Walthamstow Reservoirs in the Lee Valley

Charlie Owens examines the hedgehog found at Walthamstow Wetlands. Image credit: Penny DixieCharlie Owens examines the hedgehog found at Walthamstow Wetlands. Image credit: Penny Dixie

Hedgehogs have virtually disappeared from many parts of London – so any sighting at all is something to be celebrated. The discovery of one of these iconic spikey mammals in east London’s Lee Valley has now raised hopes that local populations can be sustained.

The unmistakable ball of spines was found among the reservoirs which, thanks to a partnership between London Wildlife Trust, Waltham Forest Council and Thames Water, are transforming into a new nature reserve due to open next year as Walthamstow Wetlands. The large, healthy male is only the fourth hedgehog recorded in Waltham Forest in the last five years.

A ranger for the Trust, Charlie Owens, was taking part in a bat survey when another nocturnal mammal made a surprise appearance. He said: “As we were sitting there filling in data there was an unmistakable rustle among the willow leaf litter. I grabbed my torch and went into the trees to search for the culprit. And there he was, sitting happily munching on an unfortunate worm. In mild disbelief at our luck we were able to pick him up and get a closer look… and smell.”


Buzzard licensing applications – Natural England


Investigation after waste illegally dumped – Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is working with partners to investigate reports of large amounts of waste being dumped in rural locations. The Environment Agency is working with partners to investigate reports of waste being illegally dumped on land in rural North East locations.

Image shows waste dumped on land, wrapped in bales (Environment Agency)Image shows waste dumped on land, wrapped in bales (Environment Agency)

Last week at Bishop Auckland in County Durham, approximately 40 tonnes of general mixed waste was illegally tipped out the back of a wagon and into a field. A second lorry was prevented by Durham Police from tipping its waste and has been seized by Durham County Council pending further investigation. A second case near Sadberge, near Darlington, saw old processed waste that had been wrapped in 80 black plastic bales dumped on land without the landowner’s permission. And on Wednesday, 7 September, 20 bales of old processed waste wrapped in plastic were found to be dumped at a farm near Northallerton.

The Environment Agency is working with police and local authorities for the areas to follow up lines of enquiry to identify those responsible. 


Canvey Wick Nature Reserve to be expanded – The Land Trust

The retailer has transferred 130 hectares – more than 180 football pitches – together with an endowment to boost the environmental quality of the land and provide for its long-term management. By linking this adjoining space, the Land Trust and managing partners RSPB and Buglife can extend the unique habitats and offer new education opportunities.

Although the new area currently has no formal public access, the Land Trust, RSPB and Buglife will work together to ensure local communities can safely enjoy this important site whilst protecting the wildlife.

Simon Pile, Estates Manager for the Land Trust, said: “The transfer of land that will significantly increase the size of Canvey Wick Nature Reserve is tremendously exciting, helping unlock investment into the ecological diversity and provide community opportunities for the site.


‘Check your chestnuts’, owners advised – Forestry Commission

The Forestry Commission is appealing to the owners and managers of sweet chestnut trees to step up their vigilance for sweet chestnut blight following the discovery of a tree with the disease in the summer.

A single sweet chestnut tree infected by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica was confirmed on a private property near Maidstone, Kent after the owner spotted and reported suspicious symptoms to the Commission with its Tree Alert on-line disease reporting tool. The tree has been destroyed and a survey of trees within 5km carried out, with no further cases detected. The disease had been recorded only twice before in the UK, in 2011.

Andy Hall, Tree Health Manager for Forestry Commission England, said: “The affected tree was destroyed, with the co-operation of the owner, to prevent any further spread.  Forestry Commission and Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) surveyors conducted a survey of sweet chestnut and oak trees (some species of oak can also be affected) within 5km of the tree, including plants in nurseries. Where possible, APHA traced other sweet chestnut plants supplied by the nursery which supplied the infected tree, to check on their health. Happily, no further evidence of the disease was found, but we cannot afford to be complacent and presume that’s the end of the matter. Our surveyors cannot be everywhere all the time, so we are also appealing to owners and managers of sweet chestnut trees to remain vigilant. Please follow the example of this owner and inspect your trees frequently for signs of ill health, and report any suspicious symptoms to us, preferably with Tree Alert.”

Chestnut Blight factsheet and Pest Alert with photographs of symptoms available here.



Scientific Publications 

McMahon, K. and Marples, N. (2016), Reduced dietary conservatism in a wild bird in the presence of intraspecific competition. J Avian Biol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/jav.01135


Klassen, J. A., Gawlik, D. E. and Frederick, P. C. (2016), Linking wading bird prey selection to number of nests. Jour. Wild. Mgmt.. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21141


Sadroddin Alavipanah, Dagmar Haase, Tobia Lakes, Salman Qureshi, Integrating the third dimension into the concept of urban ecosystem services: A review, Ecological Indicators, Volume 72, January 2017, Pages 374-398, ISSN 1470-160X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.08.010.


Labouche, A.-M., Richards, S. A. and Pannell, J. R. (2016), Effects of pollination intensity on offspring number and quality in a wind-pollinated herb. J Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12659


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