CJS Logo & link to homepage

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


Parks face threat of decline with severe consequences - The Communities and Local Government Committee, UK Parliament 

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee report on public parks warns that parks are at a tipping point and face a period of decline with potentially severe consequences unless their vital contribution to areas such as public health, community integration and climate change mitigation is recognised. 

The Public parks report highlights considerable challenges for the sector including reduced council spending, with parks management budgets cut by up to 97 per cent, the need for parks to compete with other services for funding, and planning policy not giving them enough weight, particularly as a result of pressures to increase housing supply.

The Committee call on councils to publish strategic plans, which recognise the value of parks beyond leisure and recreation and set out how they will be managed to maximise their contribution to wider local authority agendas, such as promoting healthy lifestyles, tackling social exclusion and managing flood risk. It is hoped these plans will open up parks to support and funding beyond their usual budgets and service areas.

The Government should issue guidance to councils to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and other relevant bodies to publish these joint plans and consider making producing such a strategy a legal requirement if the guidance proves ineffective, the report adds.

Findings, conclusions and recommendations include:

  • Parks make vital contributions to physical and mental health
  • Innovation in management and funding sources needed 
  • Public parks should remain under local authority ownership and freely available to everyone.
  • The Committee welcomes the Minister’s confirmation that he recognises the current lack of coordination and his intention to establish a cross-departmental group to consider the Committee’s report and recommendations.
  • The Committee recommends the Minister issues guidance setting out key principles for the appropriate governance and accountability arrangements, which could be put in place as part of any emerging or alternative models for parks management.
  • The Minister should work with his colleagues in Defra to ensure that parks, and green infrastructure more widely, are properly recognised in the Government’s forthcoming 25-year Environment Plan.

View the interactive report summary

Read the full report: Public parks HTML or PDF


Response: LGA responds to CLG committee report about public parks - Local Government Association

Responding to a new CLG Committee report about public parks, Cllr Ian Stephens, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: "Councils understand how important parks are to residents and the value they have in promoting health and fitness, local heritage, public art, festivals and wildlife walks.  Councils are taking innovative approaches to using park spaces, such as providing pop-up spaces, hosting local events and giving communities a say in how their parks are run. Ensuring parks remain open and accessible to our communities is a key concern for councils. However, over the previous parliament central government funding for councils was reduced by 40 per cent in real terms and they continue to experience funding pressures. Despite this difficult backdrop, councils are doing everything they can to provide the best possible park services."

Click through for case studies


Response:  Public parks report reveals green spaces are at a tipping point – The Parks Alliance

The Parks Alliance, the UK’s voice of parks, responded to the Communities and Local Government Committee’s report on their inquiry into public parks by calling on the government to take a joined up approach across Departments to fund them.

Over half the UK population regularly use their local park, yet the challenge of managing our parks and green spaces is increasing due to the continued reduction in funding and loss of staff and skills. We have to find a solution now before the improvements made over the past 20 years are lost and our parks, once again, go into decline and become places that require significant investment.

Matthew Bradbury, Chairman of The Parks Alliance, said: “We welcome the report but just see this as the start of the process to protect and enhance our parks. It gives all of us, the public, park professionals, local and central government the opportunity to seek solutions and avoid merely nursing our parks into a managed decline. It’s important that the Committee has recognised that parks are central to our wellbeing but it is bitter sweet to read a report which confirms what we have believed for some time that parks are at a tipping point. They are at the heart of British life yet are a cinderella service set against competing financial demands."


Response: Fields in Trust response to Public parks inquiry report

Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, comments of the Report findings and recommendations: "I welcome the Communities and Local Government Committee report into the future of parks and particularly the recommendation that their wider value should be recognised, beyond leisure and recreation, to include promoting healthy lifestyles and tackling social exclusion; the CLG Committee suggest parks should maximise their contribution to wider local authority agendas."  Click through to read in full


Response: Groundwork response to CLG Select Committee Public Parks Report

Responding to the CLG Select Committee public parks report, Groundwork’s national chief executive, Graham Duxbury, said: "The select committee recognises that protecting our parks and green spaces is enormously important but increasingly difficult.  Councils can be creative with their budgets but there are limits.  Some parks have the potential to benefit from private income but not all, especially those smaller neighbourhood parks that people visit most.  If we’re going to keep our communities green and well, the people who use and care about the green spaces on their doorstep are going to have to do more."    Click through to read in full


Related news 

Newcastle explores transfer of parks to trust – Heritage Lottery Fund

Newcastle City Council (NCC) is set to test a new model for looking after its parks, thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support.

A groundbreaking scheme, funded by the National Lottery, will help NCC to develop and test a new funding, management and maintenance model for 33 of the city’s parks and allotments - over 400 hectares of land.

Such a proposal could see Newcastle’s parks and green spaces remain the property of the city council but transfer day-to-day responsibility for funding, managing and maintaining them to a new charitable trust whose sole purpose is to manage the parks. 

The scheme has been designed to help tackle the financial challenges facing the local authority, where park budgets have been dramatically reduced. Parks are not a statutory service for local authorities; however many, like NCC, recognise their vital importance to the health and wellbeing of local communities. 

​The money has been announced as the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee Parks Inquiry calls for strategic local parks plans and innovation in management models and funding sources. Public engagement starts 13 February, running until 21 April. Find out more on the Let's Talk Newcastle website

NCC is launching a consultation on the detail of the plans but if implemented, the charitable trust would independently manage approximately 33 parks across the city and possibly over 50 hectares of allotment land. It would explore new ways of best using the current facilities, space and buildings to bring in revenue for the successful running of the parks, without undermining free access to parks. NCC will also explore whether an endowment could be put in place to support the Trust.


Case Study: New Public Park improves community health and wellbeing – Fields in Trust

The creation of a new public park on derelict land in Newbold, Rugby has resulted in local residents feeling healthier, happier and becoming more active. The findings in a report published by Fields in Trust come as Parliament's Communities and Local Government Committee recommend the wider value of parks, beyond leisure and recreation, should be recognised, suggesting parks should maximise their contribution to comprehensive local authority agendas, such as promoting healthy lifestyles, and tackling social exclusion. 

The research assessed the way Centenary Park, Rugby is used and shows that three times as many people visit parks daily than before it opened with 60.2% visiting once a week or more. Over 60% of park visitors reported feeling happier and better about themselves and half said they had significantly more access to nature as a result. Crucially more than two-thirds of respondents said the most important reason for visiting the new park was for physical activity. This data reinforces the view that local green space is vitally important in meeting the government's aim of creating a more active nation; an ambition which requires all kinds of formal and informal recreational space to be accessible. The Centenary Park case study demonstrates that despite the lack of traditional formal sports facilities the majority of respondents cite physical activity as the primary reason for visiting.

Download the Centenary Park Case Study report (PDF)


“A better and fairer approach” to public access for outdoor recreation – Welsh Government

Wales needs a better and fairer approach to public access for outdoor recreation according to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs.

The Welsh Government asked the public for its opinions in 2015.  Many of the 5,800 who responded said the current system is too complex and burdensome with some strong, and sometimes polarised, views on how it might be improved. 
The consultation revealed the wide range of outdoor activities taking place across Wales but also exposed challenges faced by land managers and flaws and inconsistencies in the current system. 
After reviewing the responses, Lesley Griffiths has announced her intention to develop proposals on how current laws can be improved in order to:

  • Achieve consistency in the opportunities available for participation and how activities are restricted and regulated;
  • Simplify procedures for designating and recording public access; 
  • Improve existing advisory forums and better communicate access rights and responsibilities.


Restoring fifty hectares of rare and threatened habitats in Doncaster to benefit all – Environment Agency

Almost 50 hectares of nationally-important habitat is being restored in Doncaster as part of an Environment Agency-led project benefiting communities and wildlife.

The Environment Agency is leading a project to improve 7 wet woodland areas. (Image courtesy of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, via Environment Agency)The Environment Agency is leading a project to improve 7 wet woodland areas. (Image courtesy of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, via Environment Agency)

The work across seven woodland areas, including two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), will help improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and enhance natural habitats for protected species. Beginning in September last year, the Inspiring Water Action in the Torne project is creating, restoring and improving up to 46.5 hectares of wet-woodland priority habitats – and involving local communities in doing so. The 46.5 hectares represents 11 per cent of the Environment Agency’s national target for habitat creation.

Measures include selectively thinning the woodland, re-wetting areas that have dried out, improving access for visitors, and sowing native plants that will help filter pollutants from the environment. As well as providing for one of the nation’s most threatened bird species – the Willow Tit – the restored wet-woodland will act as a natural aid to reducing flood risk by creating more room for water. The estimated 4,000 cubic metres of extra storage space will help naturally interrupt and soak up the flow of rising waters, reducing the risk to around 1,000 nearby properties, as well as to agricultural land.


Banned chemicals from the 70s found in deepest reaches of the ocean – Newcastle University

Crustaceans from the deepest ocean trenches found to contain ten times the level of industrial pollution than the average earthworm, scientists have shown.

Hirondellea gigas are voracious scavengers that consume anything that comes down from the surface. Photo credit: Dr Alan JamiesonHirondellea gigas are voracious scavengers that consume anything that comes down from the surface. Photo credit: Dr Alan Jamieson

A study, led by Newcastle University’s Dr Alan Jamieson has uncovered the first evidence that man-made pollutants have now reached the farthest corners of our earth.

Sampling amphipods (pictured) from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches - which are over 10 kilometres deep and 7,000 km apart - the team found extremely high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants - or POPs - in the organism’s fatty tissue. These include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.

Publishing their findings today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the study team – from Newcastle University, University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute - say the next step is to understand the consequences of this contamination and what the knock-on effects might be for the wider ecosystem.

Lead author, Dr Jamieson, said: “We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the amphipods we sampled contained levels of contamination similar to that found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the northwest Pacific. What we don’t yet know is what this means for the wider ecosystem and understanding that will be the next major challenge.”

Reference: Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the deepest ocean fauna.  Alan Jamieson et al. Nature Ecology & Evolution http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-016-0051.


Marine bacteria produce molecule with links to climate – University of East Anglia

Scientists from the University of East Anglia and Ocean University China have discovered that tiny marine bacteria can synthesise one of the Earth’s most abundant sulfur molecules, which affects atmospheric chemistry and potentially climate.

This molecule, dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is an important nutrient for marine microorganisms and is the major precursor for the climate-cooling gas, dimethyl sulfide (DMS).

DMS, produced when microorganisms break down DMSP, is thought to have a role in regulating the climate by increasing cloud droplets that in turn reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the ocean’s surface. These same clouds are vital in the movement of large amounts of sulfur from oceans to land, making the production of DMSP and DMS a critical step in the global sulfur cycle.

It was previously widely thought that only eukaryotes – ‘higher’ organisms with complex cells, such as seaweeds and phytoplankton – produced DMSP. However, researchers have discovered that many marine bacteria also produce this sulfur compound, and have identified the key gene in the process.

“Our finding that DMSP is produced by many marine bacteria could mean that scientists have been significantly underestimating both the production of this molecule and the effects it is having in the environment” said Dr Jonathan Todd from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences. “Since these bacteria do not require sunlight for growth, the production of DMSP need not be confined to the surface ocean waters which receive the most light energy, as was thought to be the case.”

The paper ‘Dimethylsulfoniopropionate biosynthesis in marine bacteria and identification of the key gene in this process’ is published in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology.


Appeal to lift ban flies in the face of logic - Buglife

Bombus Humilis Queen (image © S.Falk via Buglife)Bombus Humilis Queen (image © S.Falk via Buglife)

Buglife is dismayed that the National Farmers Union (NFU) is ignoring the compelling evidence that neonics have damaged wild bee populations and has again asked Defra to temporarily lift the EU wide ban on using neonicotinoid seed treatments on insect pollinated crops.

There is abundant scientific evidence that neonic seed treatments do not consistently improve crop yields. The ADAS study associated with the NFU’s 2015 derogation showed that there was no difference in oilseed rape establishment between treated and untreated fields.

Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife commented. “It is a significant change of tack for the NFU to ask to only apply to use neonic treated seeds in areas of moderate flea beetle presence, and not in areas with high presence, because they say that neonics are “less likely to be of benefit” in those areas.  Surely this is an acknowledgement, of the very limited efficacy of neonic seed treatments in controlling flea beetles.  This application should be given short shrift by Defra.”

Counter to another NFU claim, pyrethroid resistance in flea beetles pre-dates the partial neonic ban and may well have been triggered by the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments because more than half of the oilseed rape seed treatments contained beta-cyfluthrin a pyrethroid, and prophylactic use over millions of hectares is the most likely way to foster pesticide resistance.

Buglife is hopeful that the EC will take action this year to address the harm neonics are causing to aquatic wildlife by extending the ban on neonicotinoid seed treatments to all crops.


Commission warns Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom of continued air pollution breaches - European Commission

The European Commission sends final warnings to Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom for failing to address repeated breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO2 pollution is a serious health risk. Most emissions result from road traffic.

The European Commission urges 5 Member States to take action to ensure good air quality and safeguard public health.

EU legislation on ambient air quality (Directive 2008/50/EC) sets limit values for air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide. In case such limit values are exceeded, Member States are required to adopt and implement air quality plans that set out appropriate measures to bring this situation to an end as soon as possible.

Today's reasoned opinion concerns persistent breaches of NO2 limit values in:

  • Germany (28 air quality zones, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Köln);
  • France (19 air quality zones, among them Paris, Marseille and Lyon);
  • The United Kingdom (16 air quality zones, among them London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow);
  • Italy (12 air quality zones, including Rome, Milan and Turin);
  • Spain (3 air quality zones, one being Madrid and two covering Barcelona).

Possible measures to lower polluting emissions, at the same time accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy, include reducing overall traffic volumes, the fuels used, switching to electric cars and/or adapting driving behaviour. In this context, reducing emissions from diesel-powered vehicles is an important step towards achieving compliance with EU air quality standards.

While it is up to the Member State authorities to choose the appropriate measures to address exceeding NO2 limits, much more effort is necessary at local, regional and national levels to meet the obligations of EU rules and safeguard public health. If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU. 


Response: UK receives "final warning" from Europe for breaching air pollution limits – Friends of the Earth

The UK government must introduce Clean Air Zones across the country and commit to cleaning up the UK’s air faster says Friends of the Earth

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner said: “It’s shameful that the EU has to take legal action against the UK government to get it to deal with the dangerous levels of dirty air across the country. Air pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of early deaths every year and is harming the health of an entire generation of children. Current government plans have been shown to be too little too late. With road traffic the biggest problem, and diesels worst of all, the government must fund Clean Air Zones in pollution hot spots across the country. This would help to restrict the most polluting vehicles and save lives. We also need a new Clean Air Act in place to protect the public from air pollution post-Brexit, when we can no longer rely on European rules and courts to kick the UK government into action.”


Alien species on the rise worldwide – Senckenberg, world of biodiversity 

The increase in numbers of alien species does not show any sign of saturation at a global level, an international team of 45 researchers led by scientists from Senckenberg, Germany, and University of Vienna, Austria, has discovered. They found that during the last centuries the number of new introductions has continuously increased worldwide, with more than a third of all first introductions recorded between 1970 and 2014. Although individual trends differ among taxonomic groups, the ongoing increase in alien species numbers is still visible for all groups of organisms.  

Although it was known that the number of alien species increased during the last decades, it remained unclear whether or not the accumulation of alien species has already reached a point of slow-down. Dr Hanno Seebens from Senckenberg, Germany, first author a new study on the topic has an answer now: “For all groups of organisms on all continents, the number of alien species has increased continuously during the last 200 years. For most groups, even the rate of introduction is highest recently. Barring mammals and fishes, there are no signs of a slow-down and we have to expect more new invasions in the near future.”His outlook comes at the end of a large collaborative effort in which 45 scientists from all over the world established a database of the date an alien species was first detected in a region outside the species’ native range. Using more than 45.000 of these first records of more than 16.000 alien species, they analysed the development of alien species accumulation during the last centuries.

They found that 37% of all recorded alien species have been introduced between 1970-2014 and thus recently. At its peak 585 new species were recorded within one year. This corresponds to more than 1.5 new alien species per day globally. “As the date of first record is not available for most alien species, these numbers are clearly underestimating the full extent of alien species introductions”, says Dr. Franz Essl from the University of Vienna, Austria, senior author of the study. 

Read the paper (open access):  Seebens, H. et al. (2016):  No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide, Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms14435 


The Gruffalo brought to life in the forest with new augmented reality app – Forestry Commission

In the first development of its kind, Forestry Commission England and Magic Light Pictures bring The Gruffalo characters to life in the forest through a new augmented reality app.

The Gruffalo Spotter has been designed for exclusive use at 26 forests across England where visitors can join the adventure through the deep dark wood.

Gruffalo spotter app (image: Forestry Commission)Gruffalo spotter app (image: Forestry Commission)

Families can follow clues on an interactive trail and track signs of their favourite characters based on The Gruffalo, best-selling picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
The self-led trail is packed with fun facts about forest animals with fantastic activities along the way. Once families have spotted the characters, they can use the app to bring the 3D character animation to life and take photos alongside them.

Their photos are automatically added to the device’s gallery, from where it can be shared via social media with the hashtag #GruffaloSpotters.

Taking family forest walks to new heights, the app mixes technology with the real world, encouraging children to get exploring, firing their imaginations and enabling them to have an all-new forest experience.

The Gruffalo Spotter’s app has been developed and animated by Nexus Studios and is available for free with no in-app purchases from the App Store and Google Play.


Butterflies declining faster in urban areas – Butterfly Conservation

Butterflies are declining more rapidly in urban areas than in the countryside, a study published in the journal Ecological Indicators has revealed. 

Small Copper Butterfly (image: Peter Eeles, Butterfly Conservation)Small Copper Butterfly (image: Peter Eeles, Butterfly Conservation)

But the majority of butterflies living in our towns and cities are emerging earlier and are on the wing for longer than the same species living in rural areas, the study by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the University of Kent and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) found.   

Urban parks, gardens and brownfield sites and farms act as important refuges for butterflies and other wildlife but in recent years these areas have come under increasing pressure from development, habitat loss and climate change. 

The study compared trends for 28 species in urban and countryside environments. Over a 20-year period urban butterfly abundance fell by 69% compared to a 45% decline for butterflies in rural areas.  

The Small Copper and Small Heath declined much more dramatically in towns and cities than in the countryside.  From 1995 to 2014 Small Copper abundance fell by 75% in urban areas compared to a 23% decline in rural areas. The Small Heath experienced an abundance decline of 78% for urban areas, compared to a smaller decline of 17% in rural areas.  The causes of these changes require further research but it is likely to be due to the combined effects of habitat loss, intensification of land use and climate change. 

Butterflies are sensitive to environmental change. Declines in abundance in urban areas follow ongoing butterfly declines in the wider countryside.  The study found that butterflies in urban areas emerged on average two days earlier than their countryside counterparts with urban Brimstones emerging five days earlier than those found in rural locations.  Flight periods for many of the species studied were also found to be slightly longer for urban butterflies than their rural counterparts. 

The probable cause behind the earlier emergence and longer flight periods of urban butterflies is the ‘urban heat island’ effect – conditions in which towns and cities are slightly warmer than the surrounding countryside due to human activities

Read the paper: Dennis, W. B., Morgan, B. J. T., Roy, D. B. & Brereton, T. M. (2017) Urban indicators for UK butterflies. Ecological Indicators. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.01.009


New antibiotic from bacteria found on an ant could beat MRSA – John Innes Centre

A new antibiotic, produced by bacteria found on a species of African ant, is very potent against antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ like MRSA according to scientists.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the John Innes Centre (JIC) discovered a new member of the Streptomyces bacteria family, isolated from the African fungus-growing plant-ant Tetraponera penzigi. They have named the new species Streptomyces formicae and the antibiotics formicamycins, after the Latin formica, meaning ant.

Lab tests have shown these new antibiotics are effective against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE), bacteria which are resistant to a number of common antibiotics and can cause life-threatening infections.

Almost all of the antibiotics currently in clinical use come from a group of bacteria called actinomycetes that were isolated from soil between 40-80 years ago, the ‘golden age’ of antibiotic discovery. Inappropriate use of these antibiotics since then has led to widespread antimicrobial resistance (AMR), where disease-causing bacteria and fungi have become resistant to one or more antibiotics.

Read the paper: Z. Qin, J. T.Munnoch, R. Devine, N. A. Holmes, R. Seipke, K. A. Wilkinson, B. Wilkinson and M. Hutchings, Chem. Sci. 2017, Formicamycins, antibacterial polyketides produced by Streptomyces formicae isolated from African Tetraponera plant-ants DOI: 10.1039/C6SC04265A.


Underwater seagrass meadows dial back polluted seawater – Cornell University

Seagrass meadows – bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth – can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research published in Science Feb. 16.

“The seagrass appear to combat bacteria, and this is the first research to assess whether that coastal ecosystem can alleviate disease associated with marine organisms,” said lead author Joleah Lamb of Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, where she is a Nature Conservancy NatureNet fellow.

Senior author Drew Harvell, Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and an Atkinson Center fellow, had been running an international workshop and examining the health of underwater corals with colleagues near small islands at the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia. But after a few days, the entire research team fell ill with dysentery, and one scientist contracted typhoid. “I experienced firsthand how threats to both human health and coral health were linked,” Harvell said.


CEH experts contribute to new Environment Agency report aimed at better protecting the UK from flooding - Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Image: Centre for Ecology & HydrologySpecialists in flood frequency estimation at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) have made a major contribution to a new Environment Agency (EA) report aimed at better protecting UK residents and property from flooding.

Image: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

CEH scientists joined collaborators, including those from the University of Bath and the University of Aberystwyth, to update and improve existing flood frequency estimation techniques with the addition of more local data.

This new set of enhanced methodologies is already being incorporated into guidance to practitioners and dedicated software tools to help inform decisions on the design and operation of flood defences, flood mapping and building in flood-risk areas.

The updates are intended to reduce the uncertainty associated with flood frequency estimation and as such increase the confidence of residents, government policy-makers and flood risk planners, industry, developers and insurers.


Don’t cut your hedge between March and August to help Glasgow’s house sparrows - RSPB

RSPB Scotland is calling on gardeners in Glasgow to put down their shears and take the hedge-pledge this summer in an effort to save the city’s struggling house sparrows.

These once common birds are in decline across the UK, but the population in Glasgow is thought to have dropped by 90% since the 1970s.

Since 2014, RSPB Scotland has been working with the University of Glasgow and a team of dedicated volunteers to track down any remaining sparrows and investigate reasons for the sudden decline.

One thing the project has uncovered so far is that remaining sparrow strongholds are clustered around gardens that have a particular sort of hedge.

RSPB Scotland’s Sarah-Jayne Forster said: “Our volunteers found little groups of sparrows living in all the areas that they surveyed, which is great news as it means there’s definitely hope for a long-term recovery. But the other thing they found was that 85% of the gardens where sparrows were recorded had lots of hedges or bushes. It also seems that the best types of hedges are ones that aren’t cut very often, which leaves the structure more open, and gives the birds a chance to move around and hide from predators. That’s why we’re asking gardeners in Glasgow to take the hedge-pledge this summer, and avoid cutting their hedges at all between the start of March and the end of August. It’s a really simple thing that everyone can do to help their local sparrows. This is the time when most of our garden birds are nesting anyway, and as it’s an offence to disturb or destroy an active bird’s nest, hedge-cutting really is an activity that’s best left for autumn and winter.”


Scientific publications

Mangonea, G., Capaldi, C. A., Van Allen, Z.M. & Luscuere, P. G. (2017) Bringing Nature to Work: Preferences and Perceptions of Constructed Indoor and Natural Outdoor Workspaces. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2017.02.009


Donovan, G. H. (2017) Including public-health benefits of trees in urban-forestry decision making. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2017.02.010


Hedblom, M., Ode Sang, Å. & Gunnarsson, B. (2017) Evaluation of natural sounds in urban greenery: potential impact for urban nature preservation. Royal Society Open Science. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.170037


Sharps, K. et al (2017) Comparing strengths and weaknesses of three ecosystem services modelling tools in a diverse UK river catchment. Science of The Total Environment. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.12.160


Daniel R. Richards, Peter J. Edwards, Quantifying street tree regulating ecosystem services using Google Street View, Ecological Indicators, Volume 77, June 2017, Pages 31-40, ISSN 1470-160X, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.01.028.


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.